Study Investigates New Approach to Diagnosis and Treatment of Head and Neck Cancers

WASHINGTON, Dec. 15, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- A recently published article in Experimental Biology and Medicine (Volume 246, Issue 24, December, 2021) investigates a new approach for treating nasopharyngeal carcinoma. The study, led by Dr. Yan-Ping Mao, from the Sun Yat-sen University Cancer Center in Guangzhou (China), reports that BART10-3p, an Epstein-Barr virus-encoded microRNA, is an unfavorable prognostic indicator for nasopharyngeal cancer and promotes proliferation of nasopharyngeal cancer cells.

Nasopharyngeal cancer (NPC) is a form of head and neck cancer that is associated with Epstein Barr virus infections. In areas of high incidence such as southern China, the undifferentiated non-keratinizing subtype is the most prevalent. Because subtype 2 is poorly differentiated, it has a higher rate of distant metastasis than well-differentiated subtypes. Cancers like NPC that are associated with Epstein Barr virus express a restricted set of viral gene products that are unique to each cancer. In the case of NPC, these viral gene products are predominantly microRNAs that allow the virus to exert its oncogenic effects without activating the host immune system. BART10-3p is an Epstein Barr virus microRNA that is highly overexpressed in NPC and promotes metastasis. However, its role in differentiation has not been investigated.

In this study, Dr. Mao and colleagues used bioinformatics and functional studies to examine BART10-3p in nasopharyngeal cancer (NPC) differentiation. Analysis of microarray data from more than 300 patient samples identified BART10-3p expression as an unfavorable independent indicator. In vitro studies demonstrated that BART10-3p promotes dedifferentiation and proliferation of NPC cells by inhibiting ALK7. Finally, in vivo studies confirmed that BART10-3p promotes tumor growth. Co-author Dr. Xiao-Jing Yang said, "BART10-3p can be used to identify patients at higher risk of progression." Dr. Mao added that "In China, NPC is mostly undifferentiated and highly aggressive, and its management remains challenging. Insights into the mechanisms contributing to loss of differentiation offer an opportunity to reverse the malignant phenotypes of NPC and pave the way to better combat this disease."

Dr. Steven R. Goodman, Editor-in-Chief of Experimental Biology and Medicine, said, "Mao and colleagues have demonstrated that the Epstein Barr virus miRNA BART10-3p promotes dedifferentiation and proliferation in nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) in vitro and oncogenesis in vivo by targeting ALK7. Further, they demonstrate that BART 10-3p is a candidate prognostic biomarker and therapeutic target for NPC."

Experimental Biology and Medicine is a global journal dedicated to the publication of multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research in the biomedical sciences. The journal was first established in 1903. Experimental Biology and Medicine is the journal of the Society of Experimental Biology and Medicine. To learn about the benefits of society membership, visit If you are interested in publishing in the journal, please visit

For more information, please contact

Related Images

Image 1

This content was issued through the press release distribution service at


Featured Image for Experimental Biology and Medicine