Isolation, characterization, and functional analysis of human salivary gland myoepithelial cells for use in tissue regeneration

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University of Delaware
Cancer of the head and neck accounts for nearly 50,000 cases annually, and radiation treatment for these cancers can have deleterious effects on patients. Individuals who undergo radiation therapy to treat head and neck cancer often suffer necrosis of salivary gland acini, the glands fluid-secreting units of the gland. This leads to problems such as severe dry mouth, difficulty swallowing, digesting, and dental caries. The current remedies available to these patients are largely unsatisfactory, so we have proposed the regeneration of salivary glands as a new approach to treating radiation-induced symptoms. During my graduate work, I have reported the isolation of human salivary gland myoepithelial cells, one of the three major epithelial cells types that comprise the gland. These cells have been characterized phenotypically and functionally, and future work will involve their incorporation in our three dimensional system for salivary gland regeneration.