The HNCG is strongly focusing on translational research projects. The HNCG is in the position to have access to extended clinical data of a number of databases of prospective randomized studies that could be used for translational research purposes. The group took actions to actively involve investigators in the field of preclinical and translational research in the group activities and meetings, and this led to three different translational research projects that are currently in development. The HNCG plans to explore whether tumor HPV DNA and p16 protein status is predictive of response to docetaxel in the cohort of patients treated within the EORTC 24971/TAX323 phase III clinical trial. In addition, functional p53 status and b-tubulin expression status will be correlated with treatment outcome to see whether these biomarkers have the potential to be used as prognostic factors.
Another research project aims to evaluate the association of excision repair cross complementation group (ERCC1) expression with therapeutic response and survival among patients treated with postoperative irradiation with or without concomitant cisplatin in the EORTC 22931 phase III clinical trial. In this same trial the available specimens will be used to create TMA to validate chemoradiation signature that are already available.
A strong TR component is also present in the study proposal granted by NOCI in 2010. This is a window study in patients affected by locally advanced HNSCC that is deemed to be treated by surgery. The patients will be treated with the administration of an EGFR inhibitor and other targeted agents before surgery, and the activity of the drugs will be evaluated with advanced imaging technique and analysis of the different downstream molecular pathways to explain tumor response and resistance mechanisms. Functional magnetic resonance imaging standards will be set up within this trial.