Salo Tuula

Oral cancer research group


Research unit: Cancer and Translational Medicine 


Group leader

Tuula Salo, DDS, PhD, Professor of Oral Pathology


What do we do

Oral tongue squamous cell carcinoma (OTSCC) is the most common malignancy of the oral cavity representing the 8th most common cancer worldwide. OTSCC is a very aggressive cancer with poor survival (50%). Our research on OTSCC focuses on identification of prognostic markers for improved diagnostics and the role of the tumor microenvironment in cancer development. In addition, our research group has developed a solid, human uterus leiomyoma tissue-based Myoma disc model, which has been applied in numerous cancer invasion assays. We have been also developing leiomyoma –based extracellular matrix, Myogel, which is highly practical to apply in large scale in vitro cancer cell analyses providing a more accurate environment for human cancer cells than the most commonly used mouse EHS tumor derived Matrigel or rat tail type I collagen. Based on Myogel we are developing a reliable ex vivo method to analyze oral squamous cell carcinoma patients´ tissue samples to be able to recognize those patients who most likely benefit from radio-chemotherapy. This model aims to detect the cancer invasion potential, enabling the treatment plan towards “personalized medicine “approach.


Our team

Post doc researchers

  • Alahuhta Ilkka
  • Bitu Carolina Cavalcante
  • Campioni Rodrigues Priscila
  • Hoque Apu Ehsanul
  • Nyberg Pia
  • Risteli Maija
  • Sundquist Elias
  • Åström Pirjo

PhD students

  • Juurikka Krista
  • Väyrynen Otto

Other staff

  • Kiljander Eeva-Maija
  • Kuusisto Tanja
  • Lehtonen Maija-Leena


Where are we headed

  • Identify novel prognostic markers for OTSCC diagnostics
  • Resolve molecular mechanisms in the oral cancer tumor microenvironment for future diagnostics and therapeutics
  • Develop the Myogel for in vitro cancer cell analyses
  • Develop an ex vivo personalized medicine method for OTSCC


Our main collaborators

Professor Ricardo Coletta, Piracicaba Dental School, State University of Campinas, Brazil
Professor Antti Mäkitie and professor Timo Sorsa, University of Helsinki
Docent Petri Koivunen, Oulu University Hospital
Professor Ilmo Leivo and professor Reidar Grenman, University of Turku
Professor Veli-Matti Kosma and professor Ylermi Soini, University of Eastern Finland
Professor Marilena Vered, The Chaim Sheba Medical Center, Tel Aviv University, Israel
Associate professors Gunbjørg Svineng and Elin Hadler-Olsen, UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Norway
Senior lecturer Hong Wan, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London, Great Britain

How to find us

Cancer Research and Translational Medicine Research Unit, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oulu
tuula.salo[at], Tel. 040 5441560


Last updated: 9.7.2019