Investigating IDO immune-status in head and neck cancer

Full project name:

Investigating indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) immune status in head and neck cancer

Existing treatments for head and neck cancer (HNC) have lasting effects on patients’ quality of life. The head and neck region is a site of intense immune cell interactions. Understanding the changes in these cellular signals throughout treatment provides a basis for modifying existing treatments (e.g. radiotherapy treatment dosage) and personalising future therapies (e.g. combining immune-based cancer therapies). Indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) is an important enzyme which allows tumours to evade elimination by the body’s own immune system. The activity of IDO can be measured locally at the tumour and peripherally in blood.

We aim to study IDO activity at baseline and mapped throughout HNC treatment to establish IDO as an indicator (biomarker) of the function of the patient’s immune system (immune status). This will be achieved by testing the IDO activity in existing collected and stored blood and tissue specimen from a preliminary study and collecting further specimen during the proposed Oracle Cancer Trust fellowship to support our initial findings that IDO activity varies significantly during therapy. This work to establish IDO as a biomarker for HNC will support a more personalised, stratified approach to treating this condition in the future and aim to improve outcomes for the patients affected.


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Daniel Lin lab shot

Project type:
PhD Studentship

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

Dr Daniel Lin

Commencement date:
August 2020

Length of project:
Two years

Funding provided:

Oracle Cancer Trust

Newcastle University