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Media opportunity: In one of school's first clinical trials, the Faculty of Dentistry at Dalhousie University to study whether drug used to treat diabetes could prevent common oral cancer

Posted by Communications and Marketing on May 16, 2023 in News

Researchers at Dalhousie University are conducting one of the Faculty of Dentistry's first clinical trials to determine whether a drug commonly used to treat Type 2 diabetes could be effective in preventing oral cancer -- a disease that affects people in Atlantic Canada at disproportionately higher rates.

Dr. Leigha Rock, director of the School of Dental Hygiene, is leading the three-year chemotherapy prevention trial at Dalhousie along with colleagues at nine other sites throughout the U.S. and Canada. They will recruit and study patients with oral leukoplakia or erythroplakia, which are pre-cancerous lesions in the mouth that can become malignant over time.

The team, which includes an oral surgeon and pathologist at Dalhousie, will give participants either the drug Metformin or a placebo. The patients will be monitored over 24 weeks to ensure they are tolerating the treatment and to see whether the lesions disappear, remain the same or worsen.

Metformin helps to control the amount of sugar in the blood and is often prescribed to diabetics, but has been shown in other studies to have positive effects in people with breast and kidney cancers.

Dr. Rock is available to discuss this important clinical trial and how researchers are hoping their findings could ultimately help reduce the number of cases of oral cancer by detecting and treating lesions early, thereby reducing the burden of a disease that is the eighth most common cancer in the world and has a five-year survival rate of 50 per cent.


Media contact:

Alison Auld
Senior Research Reporter
Communications, Marketing and Creative Services
Dalhousie University
Cell: 1-902-220-0491


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