Using imaging to predict and improve responses to immunotherapy

Full project names: Use of 89Zr based immune-PET to study immune checkpoint inhibitor (ICPI) therapy in head and neck cancer

Tag: Imaging

Julia Hobart and Florian Raes  - Photograph © John Angerson ICR
Julia Hobart and Florian Raes - Photograph © John Angerson ICR

Project type:
PhD Research

Project Leader:
Dr Gabriela Kramer-Marek
Professor Kevin Harrington.

Julia Hoebart

Commencement date:
October 2017

Length of project:
4 years

Funding provided:


The Institute of Cancer Research

The problem

In 2017, Oracle pledged funding to an exciting new research project at The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), being undertaken under the guidance of Dr Gabriela Kramer-Marek and Oracle Honorary Trustee, Professor Kevin Harrington.

Researchers will be investigating how clinicians can use state-of-the-art imaging techniques to look at a patient’s head and neck cancer and assess whether that patient will respond to treatment with a class immunotherapies known as immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICPI).

ICPI are already being used in head and neck cancer patients and whilst results are very positive in some patients, unfortunately they are not successful in all patients.

Traditionally, treatment decisions are often based on biopsy specimens. However, we have learnt in recent years that this may not be an accurate reflection of the way that a patient’s disease will respond to treatment as different bits of the same tumour may have a slightly different genetic make-up – a phenomenon known as ‘intratumoural heterogeneity’. This means that treatments that work on one part of the tumour may not work on the whole tumour.

New techniques are needed to predict which patients will respond, but also why some patients don't respond at all.

The research
The future

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