Cancer Research

What is SNUC?

Sinonasal Undifferentiated Carcinoma (SNUC) is a rare and highly aggressive neoplasm arising from the nasal cavity. Only a few hundred patients have ever been diagnosed, and there appear to be only a handful alive in the US at any one time.

Why are we involved?

Andrei Makovik was employed in the Information Technology department at Cayman Chemical. In November 2004, when he was 37, it was discovered that he had a large, invasive tumor of the nasal sinuses. A biopsy revealed that the malignancy was SNUC. A large contingent of Andrei’s coworkers organized a research team to help find an optimal treatment program for this cancer. This work was continued after Andrei’s death in May of 2006.

Where are we now?

After many years struggling to grow SNUC cells in culture, we have established the unexpected fact that although SNUC is a vigorous and rapidly growing cancer within a human host, it is almost incapable of growing in a petri dish. Andy Martin spent almost his entire life post-diagnosis trying to culture his own SNUC cells in Dr. Curiel’s lab. The Cayman team has also worked for years, trying to coax some life out of cells that divide much more slowly than normal HEK or other mammalian cells.

The University of Michigan Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery has initiated a study of whole tumor genome sequencing for SNUC. This study will allow researchers to read the entire DNA ‘instruction manual’ of each SNUC tumor. This information should pinpoint each mutation and alteration in the normal human sequence and has the potential to identity novel or alternative target-based theories.

Urgently Needed: Additional fresh frozen SNUC tumor biopsy samples

In order to draw meaningful conclusions, we need to sequence SNUC tumor samples from as many different patients as possible. It does not matter whether the cancer has been treated, but it is very helpful to have the tissue frozen immediately on collection. Anyone who is a recently diagnosed SNUC patient or a friend or relative of one, please contact us at

Thank you to

  • In loving memory of Gabriele Fosci
    • from his friends
  • In memory of Howard Smedley
    • Francine Moore
  • In memory of Alex McGraw
    • Amy, Chris, Felicia, Kristi, Mark, and Susan
  • In Loving Memory of Edward Glass
    • Mr. and Mrs. John Damico
  • Ashley Abernathy's Purple Star Foundation Memorial Fund
  • The Patricia L. Knebel Memorial Fund
  • Mr. Larry Pietrzyk
  • Mr. Steve Weiss
  • Marathon Packaging
  • Roger Newton and Esperion Therapeutics, a Division of Pfizer GRD
  • Mr. Armen Solakhyan
  • EMD Chemicals
  • Amanda Schwartz
  • Karen Oldford
  • Sarbasubha & Urmi Guha-Thakurta
  • Steven & Kimberly Drayer
  • Dennis Michael Griffith
  • Michel & Nathalie Torelli
  • Kenneth DiRocoo
  • John & Susan Vens
  • Boris & Margaret Mordukhovich
  • BD Biosciences
  • Dominic & Miranda Carr
  • Kaminsky & Associates
  • Kirk & Tanya Maxey
  • Lori Klose
  • Superior Glass Blowing
  • Laura Lindsey