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Integrative Therapeutics Program

Nicole C. Schmitt, M.D., Otolaryngology Surgeon-Scientist

Research Statement

Our laboratory, which is part of the NIDCD Otolaryngology Surgeon-Scientist Program (OSSP), focuses on researching novel combinations for treatment of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). Cisplatin chemotherapy is the most commonly used and effective systemic drug for HNSCC, but it has significant adverse effects. Potential strategies to limit the toxicity of cisplatin without affecting anti-tumor efficacy include using alternative agents, combining lower-dose cisplatin with other agents, and using cisplatin in combination with agents that protect normal cells of the inner ear and kidney without altering anti-tumor efficacy. Cell lines and a syngeneic mouse model are used to investigate the efficacy of cisplatin in combination with targeted biologic agents and putative protective agents.

Data from our lab suggest that cisplatin may have immune-modulating effects in the tumor microenvironment, and our preclinical mouse studies show that cisplatin enhances the efficacy of anti-PD-1 immunotherapy. We are also investigating drugs that block inhibitor of apoptosis proteins (IAPs). Our preclinical data suggest that IAP inhibitors also induce an anti-tumor immune response, and these drugs may be a less toxic replacement for platinum chemotherapy.

Another interest of the lab is to characterize and prevent cisplatin-induced hearing loss in head and neck cancer patients. A clinical study is currently underway to determine whether HNSCC patients who are taking statin drugs for high cholesterol may have a lower risk of developing hearing loss from cisplatin chemoradiation.


Lab Personnel

Lab Personnel

Photo of lab personel of integrative Therapeutics Program. Left to right: Nicole C. Schmitt, M.D., Amy Cao, M.D., Ph.D., Sreeni Gunti, Ph.D., Wen Da Ye, BS, Youji Hong, BS.

Left to right: Nicole C. Schmitt, M.D.; Zhouhong (Amy) Cao, M.D.; Sreeni Gunti, Ph.D.; Wen Da Ye, BS; Youji Hong, BS.

Selected Publications

Last Updated Date

November 1, 2019