This PhD project is focused on discovery and validation of biomarkers and drug targets using single cell sorting of DCs and next generation sequencing technology, and functional assessment of the role of the myeloid subsets in the tumour microenvironment. It involves development of state-of-the art methods, protocols and technologies which will be used for molecular profiling of tumour infiltrating immune cells, and studies of drug treatment response and inter-patient heterogeneity.
Oropharyngeal (OPC) and nasopharyngeal (NPC) cancers are frequently associated with HPV and EBV infections, respectively. Patients with HPV+ OPC have a better treatment prognosis and overall survival compared to HPV- patients. In this project, biopsies will be analysed at the viral type-level, and viral load per cell will be determined using qPCR. Frequencies and identification of tumour-associated myeloid cell types will be identified using multicolour flow cytometry, Nanostring biomarkers panels and immunohistochemistry. Selected binders towards DC-selective antigens, targeting subpopulations, will be evaluated as therapeutic candidates. Thus, this project aims to identify novel biomarkers which can be used as prognostic markers, linked to viral infections, and novel immunotherapeutic approaches.
Main supervisor of this project is Professor Malin Lindstedt from the Department of Immunotechnology, and co-supervisors are Professor Lennart Greiff from the Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Doctor Peter Ellmark from Alligator Bioscience AB and Doctor Christina Sakellariou from the Department of Immunotechnology.