Background Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI) have shown durable and long-term benefits in a subset of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) patients. To identify patient-responders from non-responders, biomarkers are needed which are predictive of outcome to ICI therapy. Cues in the tumour microenvironment (TME) have been informative in understanding the tumour-immune contexture.
Methods In this study, the NanoString GemoMx™ Digital Spatial Profiling (DSP) technology was used to determine the immune marker and compartment specific measurements in a cohort of HNSCC tumours from patients receiving ICI therapy.
Results Our data revealed that markers involved with immune cell infiltration (CD8 T-cells) were not predictive of outcome to ICI therapy. Rather, a number of immune cell types (CD4, CD68, CD45, CD44, CD66b) were found to correlate with progressive disease.
Conclusions This study, to our knowledge, represents the first spatial analysis of HNSCC tumours.
Ethics Approval The study was approved by the Queensland University of Technology Ethics Board.
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