Identification of biomarkers to predict treatment response in head and neck cancer patients

Dublin Institute of Technology

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  • Kevin Street, Dublin 8
    Dublin Institute of Technology
    Mar 8, 2018

This project will be based in the DIT Centre for Radiation and Environmental Science (RESC) which has research interests in the application of biophotonics (such as vibrational spectroscopy) to cancer diagnosis and prognosis.  The project is jointly funded by Dublin Institute of Technology and St Luke’s Institute of Cancer Research and will be carried out in collaboration with the St Luke’s Radiation Oncology Network.  It will draw on the expertise and state-of-the-art facilities of RESC and the Focas Research Institute, Dublin Institute of Technology.

This project aims to identify biomarkers for the prediction of treatment response in head and neck cancer patients. The success of radiotherapy in controlling a tumour depends on the total dose given, but the tolerance of the normal tissues limits this dose.  Late toxicity can continue years after completion of radiotherapy and is generally irreversible. Head and neck cancer patients can experience severe late radiation toxicity that can significantly impact on their quality of life, such as dry mouth, difficulty swallowing and hardening of the tissues of the head and neck. It is not known why some patients develop toxicity, and currently, it is impossible to predict before treatment which patients will experience these long-term health problems. Minimally invasive blood and oral cell samples will be acquired from head and neck cancer patients prior to radiotherapy. Biochemical fingerprinting using Raman spectroscopy will be carried out. This spectral data will be correlated with follow up clinical and toxicity data to develop a predictive model of treatment response.