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Tom Carey

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Primary Appointment: Otorhinolaryngology Department
Other PIBS Depts.: Cancer Biology
PubMed Name: carey te
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  In our autoimmune hearing research study we identified a protein that is expressed on supporting cells in the organ of Corti. This protein appears to have a function essential for the survival of auditory sensory cells (hair cells), since purified monoclonal antibody to this protein binds to supporting cells in vivo and causes hearing loss. We identified the protein as choline transporter like protein 2 (CTL2). CTL2 is a 10-11 membrane spanning glycoprotein that is also a member of the solute carrier family of proteins and is designated SLC44A2. Our current research is aimed at 1) identifying the function of this protein and 2) determining if an assay can be developed that will detect autoantibodies useful in diagnosis and management of autoimmune hearing loss.
In our cancer research laboratory we are working to identify the specific characteristics (biomarkers) of head and neck tumors and patient factors that determine response to therapy in organ sparing (i.e. non-surgical) treatment approaches. We have shown that p53 status and expression when combined with Bcl-xL expression can identify low, intermediate and high risk larynx tumors for response to induction chemotherapy and probability of avoiding laryngectomy. Similarly these same markers identify oropharynx tumors that are most likely to respond to organ sparing treatment and those that are least likely to respond and these categories also determine probability of survival among oropharynx cancer patients. High risk human papilloma virus (HPV) content in oropharynx tumors as well as epidermal growth factor receptor expression also play key roles in predicting response to treatment and survival. These factors are modified by smoking and patient gender. Using biomarkers we are now designing laboratory studies to understand how adverse biomarkers can be overcome and we are using biomarker analysis to design new therapeutic studies to assign patients to the most appropriate therapy for their tumor. With this appraoch we expect to minimize morbidity by reducing treatment intensity for those with highly responsive cancers and to change therapy to maximize effectivelness against thsoe tumors with the worst prognosis.