Immunotherapeutic antibodies and vaccines
We've completed numerous phase I and II trials in lymphoma, multiple myeloma and solid cancers from science developed in our labs
Antibody discovery programme
Working with Cancer Research UK and industry, we have established a pipeline of immunostimulatory reagents
Head and neck and lung cancers
We're studying myofibroblast-rich stroma to improve immunotherapy and vaccination
About Cancer Sciences at Southampton
Cancer Sciences is a school within the Faculty of Medicine. We conduct discovery, translational and clinical science and carry out clinical trials in many aspects of cancer. We are also training the next generation of cancer researchers and provide a number of research degrees including integrated PhDs.
Our strengths include:
- cancer immunology
- tumour microenvironment
- solid tumours
- lymphoid biology
- academic surgery
- clinical informatics
Our work led to the creation of the Centre for Cancer Immunology, the first of its kind in the UK. It has also led to the Cancer Immunology Fund, which helps develop early-career researchers and provide new research directions in cancer Immunology. Biotech and pharma partnerships strengthen all our activities.
We target lymphoid malignancies, gastrointestinal, paediatric/neuroblastoma, lung, head and neck, and breast cancers. Our clinical academics and trialists work closely with the:
- Clinical Informatics Research Unit
- Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre
- Southampton Clinical Trials Unit (SCTU)
- Wessex Investigational Sciences Hub laboratory
Biotherapeutics from our laboratory programs have advanced to clinical studies, in collaboration with biotech companies and the SCTU. We host a Blood Cancer UK Centre of Excellence and a Cure Leukaemia Trials Accelerator Centre for Lymphoid Malignancies.
We’re based on the same site as University Hospital Southampton which means our researchers can work closely with our clinical colleagues and access clinical material. We have strong working relationships with the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre and Wessex Cancer Alliance. Investment in surgical oncology and a tissue bank with thousands of samples support our research.
We have investigated the effector mechanism of the Food and Drug Administration-approved anti-CD20 therapeutic mAbs rituximab, ofatumumab and obinutuzumab. We showed that FcγRIIb expression on tumour targets is a strong negative prognostic factor for anti-CD20 treatment.
Explore our work improving cancer treatments through monoclonal antibodies.
Our activity in this area builds on our observation of the clinical importance of the mutational status of the immunoglobulin heavy variable chains. It allows the stratification of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) into groups with discrete outcomes and treatment options. Subsequent research has enabled detailed analysis of B-cell receptor signalling in CLL and other lymphomas. We have identified somatic alterations driving CLL. We have also found novel methods for inducing selective apoptosis in CLL cells.
We have discovered a new C-terminal-binding protein (CtBP) regulatory mechanism linked to metabolic status in breast cancer and the chemical synthesis of a novel class of inhibitors that target CtBP dimerization.
In one of the largest UK clinical studies of its kind, we found that the strongest independent risk factor for early patient death in oral cancer patients was a myofibroblast-rich stroma. This allows early identification of aggressive cancers. We can also identify the specific mechanism cancer cells use to generate a stromal response capable of surpressing adaptive immunity.
Cervical cancer, ankylosing spondylitis and psoriasis
We were first to demonstrate functional polymorphism in the antigen processing enzyme ERAP1. This provided a mechanistic rationale for its association with diseases such as ankylosing spondylitis, psoriasis and cervical cancer.
Collaboration and enterprise
We have taken a number of reagents (DNA vaccines, monoclonal antibodies, and radioimmunoconjugates) from our own laboratories into clinical trials alongside the various Pharma, biotech, research council and charities that fund our work.
We were one of the first to identify immunostimulatory mAb. We have delivered a first-in-man anti-CD40 mAb, Lob7-4, which was safe and led the way for subsequent research in this area.
With Cancer Research UK, we established an antibody discovery programme. This generates a pipeline of immunostimulatory reagents, which target the immune co-receptors of the TNFR superfamily.
The first, an anti-CD27, has been developed in partnership with Celldex therapeutics, and is now in phase I trials. Our work on the mechanism of anti-CD20 and FcgRIIb antibodies led to a new collaborative initiative with the Swedish Biotech company: BioInvent International.
We were the first to define the immunological functions for the MHC I cofactors calreticulin and tapasin. We were also first to relate these to the generation of immunodominance to experimental vaccines.
In collaboration with Microsoft, we developed a new computational model that helps predict the immunological outcome of various immunotherapeutic approaches.
Our research themes allow us to:
- develop novel antibody therapeutics to elicit anti-cancer immunity
- modify tumour recognition by the immune system
- study the tumour microenvironment's role in progression and immune evasion
- investigate lymphoid cancer progression and therapeutic exploitation
- integrate healthcare data with molecular profiling
They cover 3 main areas of investigation in cancer immunology, biology and clinical practice.
- Antibody and vaccines
- Antibody drug development
- Antigen processing and presentation
- B-cell malignancies
- Bioinformatics and genomics
- Tumour microenvironment
Cancer clinical and surgery
The School of Cancer Sciences hosts a number of research centres. Get to know our community and learn about the impact of our work.
Our research community
We host 4 research sub groups in our department:
Our research is providing new insights into the way cancer develops and how a patient responds to treatment. Many of these observations have been taken into the clinic for real patient benefit.
The people, facilities and close links we have to the hospital add a new dimension to our research. I feel very connected to my clinical colleagues delivering cancer treatment and to the patients we are all trying to help.