Biology Faculty - Pratt
Summer 2012 Research
|Dr. Carol Pratt’s|
Oral Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infection rates and Persistence in a College-age population
HPV is well known as a causative agent in cervical cancer. More recently, it has also been associated with 73% of head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC). While HPV is established as a causative agent of head and neck cancers, we do not know how persistent oral HPV infection is. Most cervical HPV infections are cleared from the body in one or two years, without leading to cancer. There are no corresponding data on oral HPV infection. For this reason, our research group will track a Concordia student population over time to determine whether those who develop HPV of the throat persist in that infection or can clear it rapidly. Secondly, there are multiple genetic subtypes of HPV, only some of which have been associated with cancers. We would like to specifically track which subtypes our students are infected with. Third, data on the HPV vaccine studied its effect on the cervix, not on other parts of the body. It is uncertain whether the vaccine provides protection to oral cells as well as cervical cells. Because about 50% of teens have been vaccinated against HPV and the vaccine has been available for about five years, it is likely that the current and incoming student population provide a unique group of students, some of whom have been vaccinated and some of whom have not. We can thus determine whether vaccination against cervical infection provides any protection against oral infection by the same virus.
During the May and early June 2012, our team will design an informed consent document for our student subjects to sign as well as a survey document to gather data on previous life events that would put a student at greater risk for HPV infection or oral cancers. We will also develop the laboratory procedures required for analysis of DNA samples and have these protocols approved by our IRB, since we will be using human subjects. Data collection would occur in fall 2012.
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