This study will characterise the global changes in the immune system following radiation and chemotherapy in a cohort of patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). The aims of the study are: 

  • To collect pre- and post-treatment blood samples for multi-parameter flow cytometry analysis from patients undergoing HNSCC treatment;
  • To characterise the dynamics of lymphoid and myeloid populations from the peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) of patients, including activation status and tissue homing phenotypes;
  •  To examine the impact of immune network phenotypes on clinical outcomes and patient survival.

We propose that the immune system may influence the rate of recurrence post treatment for HNSCC, and that immune network signatures identified in patients’ PBMCs will assist in predicting survival outcomes. In this pilot study, we seek to establish immune cell network profiles in patients receiving radiotherapy and chemotherapy, to identify biomarkers that assist in predicting treatment outcomes and provide more targeted approaches in the future.

This project will act as a pilot study for long-term clinical trial analysis in the Illawarra, and establish new collaborations between IHMRI and the Illawarra Cancer Care Centre (ICCC). The study will fundamentally improve our understanding of the immune system during treatment for squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck.

Funding body

Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute

Scheme name

Collaborative Project Grant

Years funded


Lead institution

University of Wollongong 

Research area