Ear, Nose and Throat (Otolaryngology)-Head and Neck Research Studies

Researchers at the Department of ENT (Otolaryngology)-Head and Neck Surgery and Head and Neck Cancer Research Program remain true to Mount Sinai’s mission to provide unrivaled patient care, education, and research to the various diverse communities we serve. Our research efforts utilize a multidisciplinary approach in conducting clinical trials and studies that include transoral robotic surgery (TORS), immune-based therapies, HPV-related head and neck cancers, and molecular pathways of tumor dormancy, growth, recurrence and metastasis. The following are highlights of ongoing research activities in the Department.

Head, Neck and Thyroid Cancer Research

Human Papillomavirus (HPV)-related Head and Neck Cancers  
Head and Neck Cancer Surgeons conduct clinical trials of patients with HPV related oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma. Surgeons are studying patients with HPV-positive stage II-IV squamous cell carcinoma of the oropharynx who were treated with chemotherapy or radiation to offer new treatment options like the Advaxis vaccine.  This vaccination is much like the flu vaccine that holds a small amount of bacteria; given to patients with the goal of stopping tumor growth.   

Medical Oncology - Recurrent/Metastatic
Medical Oncologists are running trials for patients whose cancer returned in the same location where it was first located (recurrent) or has spread (metastatic).  These cases present a challenge for oncologist and they are evaluating the overall survival of patients with recurrent or metastatic cancer.  

Medullary Thyroid Cancer
Medical oncologists perform therapeutic clinical trials that provide personalized therapy to patients with medullary thyroid cancer. The purpose of this precision targeting therapy is to provide an adequate analysis of biopsied tissue and identify personalized treatments that are evidence based.  

Oral Cancer and Transoral Robotic Surgery (TORS)
Researchers are studying the use of a 3D flexible tube with a light and camera during transoral robotic surgeries with the goal of better managing treatment for oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinomas. Employing this technology helps surgeons perform precise surgical movements in locations that are difficult to reach. Recent data suggests that TORS provides for excellent early and long-term quality of life outcomes after surgery.  

Tumor Dormancy
Tumor dormancy refers to the period of time between the clinical cure of a primary tumor and its recurrence. The Head and Neck Cancer Research Program and the Laboratory of Signaling and Metastasis teams are spearheading trials focused on tumor dormancy cells with the goal of relieving cancer recurrence. Current clinical and experimental research is being conducted to explain the development and maintenance of tumor dormancy, including anti-angiogenesis, tumor immune surveillance, and tissue homeostasis.

Hearing/Otology, Sinus/Rhinology and Sleep Apnea Research

Otology/Hearing and Balance
Patients who undergo surgery associated with chronic ear disease are often troubled by drainage and infection after surgery. Our Center for Hearing and Balance team is studying ways to effectively treat chronic ear disease and treatment results after surgery to identify factors that influence surgical outcomes.  

Rhinology/Sinus Disorders
Physicians in the Division of Rhinology, Sinus Surgery and Allergy are conducting advanced clinical trials to address the underlying causes and symptoms of chronic sinusitis to help reduce symptoms and avoid surgery. This involves combining an antibiotic (doxycycline) with oral steroids. Oral steroids are the mainstay of medical management for patients with chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) and nasal polyps. However, recent studies have shown that doxycycline not only helps improve symptoms, but also reduces inflammation and kills common bacteria that can cause symptoms. This study is the first to evaluate this combination regimen. Additionally, the Division is examining the use of a steroid-releasing nasal implant for adults who have undergone bilateral total ethmoidectomy, but are still experiencing recurrent symptoms of chronic sinusitis.

Sleep Apnea
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) stems from regular episodes of apnea and hypopnea during nighttime sleep, due to a block in the airway secondary to pharyngeal collapse. Physicians at our Sleep Surgery Program perform are investigating the effect of radiation therapy on the development of clinically significant obstructive sleep apnea in the head and neck cancer patient.