Head and neck cancer

Our research aims to find a way to repair damage to the salivary gland, a common side-effect of radiotherapy.

Despite being a lifesaving treatment for patients with head and neck cancer, a side-effect of radiotherapy is damage to salivary glands, leading to the chronic condition Xerostomia, or dry mouth. Cells which produce saliva can be destroyed, making it difficult to eat and speak. This can severely affect a patient’s quality of life, with existing treatments concentrating only on short-term relief of such side-effects.

Work at CRM

Dr Elaine Emmerson's research group aim to develop a regenerative strategy to restore salivary function.

Dr Emmerson has demonstrated that nerves surround the salivary glands and interact with stem cells, unspecialised cells that can develop into mature cells following injury, to promote regeneration. Importantly, both the gland and the nerves surrounding it are damaged by radiotherapy.

Her research group are working to develop technologies to mimic these nerve signals to control stem cells, inflammatory cells and senescent cells, to promote organ regeneration and greatly improve patient quality of life.

Support our research

If you would like to keep up to date with the progress of our research or support our research by making a donation, please follow the links below. 

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