Researching biomarkers to improve patient prospects

Dr Daniel Lin

Daniel Lin_cropped

Project type:
PhD Project

Project Leaders:
Prof Andrew Mellor, Prof Janet Wilson, Mr James O’Hara, Dr Max Robinson, Dr Lei Huang

Dr Daniel Lin

Commencement date:  
September 2020

Length of project:
2 years

Funding provided:

Oracle Cancer Trust

Newcastle University

Despite head and neck cancer presenting as the sixth leading cause of cancer worldwide, existing treatments continue to have lasting consequences and the survival outcomes have improved little. To improve patient responses to therapy, the use of predictive indicators (biomarkers) has been suggested. Biomarkers are biological molecules that can be measured as an indicator of normal biological processes, disease processes or a response to a therapeutic intervention.

IDO (indoleamine 2,3-diozygenase) is an important enzyme which allows tumours to ‘hide’ from the body’s immune system and continue to exist. The activity of IDO can be measured as a biomarker within either the blood or at the tumour and could potentially be exploited to improve treatment outcomes. IDO expression has already been shown as a negative marker in a number of cancers such as melanoma, ovarian, colorectal and lung cancer, where high IDO expression correlates with worse disease outcomes.

The work of Daniel Lin will study baseline IDO activity in patients and map this throughout head and neck cancer (HNC) treatment to establish IDO as a biomarker for HNC and support a more personalised therapeutic approach to improve patient outcomes. With the funding from Oracle, a number of key aims will be completed. Firstly, the relationship between IDO expression within the blood and the tumour itself will be characterised. The variation of IDO activity during radiotherapy treatment will also be assessed to determine whether patients can be stratified according to IDO activity mapped throughout treatment.

The resulting data will provide important preliminary information for future studies exploring the potential for IDO activity to act as a biomarker of head and neck cancer (HNC) patient status. The aim is that enough evidence will be collected to support the design of a clinical trial where patients could be stratified based on the IDO biomarker results to receive personalised therapy. The ability to effectively deliver personalised treatments will then improve survival and therefore the quality of life outcomes for patients with HNC.

Scientific or medical background. Cancer diagnosis: Histopathology, cytology and analysis of tumour markers. Histochemical staining of tissue samples. Gloved hands hold a slide glass with tissue samples for histological staining.

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