About the Garnis Lab
Our primary research interests are focused around head and neck malignancies. These are a group of biologically similar tumours originating from tissue of the upper aerodigestive tract, including the lip, oral cavity (mouth), nasal passages, paranasal sinuses, pharynx, and larynx. More than 4,300 Canadians will be diagnosed with this type of cancer this year and approximately 1,600 of them will die from it.
Currently, histopathological criteria are the gold standard for grading and classifying many tumour types. In recent years it has become clear that cancers with very similar morphologies may have drastically different underlying gene changes. Given that cancer is a disease driven by accumulated gene changes, it is imperative that we determine which of these changes are associated with specific clinical parameters. This will ultimately give us insight into mechanisms driving observed clinical behaviours (chemoresistance, metastasis, etc.) and provide us with effective biomarkers for guiding treatment strategies.
At the Garnis Lab, we are using complete molecular profiles of head and neck malignancies to better understand the gene changes involved in initiation and progression of this disease. We are looking into dysregulation of the genome and transcriptome (including small RNAs) to develop molecular stratifications for what is presently treated as a homogeneous disease. Our emphasis on early stage cases stems from the reality that pre-cancerous tissues are much more treatable than invasive tumours. DNA and RNA changes we identify in pre-malignant lesions will be further investigated as potential prognostic biomarkers and as candidates for novel targeted therapies.
Visit our official BCCRC website here (presently under construction as well).