The University of Southampton
Biological Sciences
Phone:
(023) 8059 4202
Email:
H.V.Siddle@soton.ac.uk

Dr Hannah V Siddle 

Lecturer in Molecular Immunology

Dr Hannah V  Siddle's photo
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Dr Hannah V Siddle is Lecturer in Molecular Biology within Biological Sciences at the University of Southampton.

Career History

2013-present: Lecturer in Molecular Biology, University of Southampton, UK.
2011-2013: EMBO Postdoctoral Research Fellow. University of Cambridge, UK.
2009-2011: NHMRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow. University of Cambridge, UK.

Academic Qualifications

2005-2009: PhD (Evolutionary genomics and genetics). University of Sydney, NSW, Australia.
1999-2004: Bachelor of Science (Hons Class I/Bachelor of Law). Macquarie University, NSW, Australia.

Research

Publications

Teaching

Contact

Research interests

What happens when cancer becomes an infectious disease?

Cancer is not usually an infectious disease, but in some cases tumour cells acquire the ability to pass between individuals in a population. These cancers can be deadly to the species they infect and also challenge our understanding of how tumours grow and develop. There are four naturally occurring contagious cancers, Canine Transmissible venereal Tumour (CTVT) in dogs, a leukemia in clams and two distinct cancers among Tasmanian devils, Devil Facial Tumour 1 (DFT1) and Devil Facial Tumour 2 (DFT2).

Because the adaptive immune system will readily destroy cells from genetically disparate individuals (as occurs during transplant rejection), it should not be possible for cancer cells to spread through a wild population. The proteins responsible for transplant rejection are called Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) molecules, which are variable between individuals in a population. These molecules bind to short proteins and deliver them to the surface of all cells where they are scanned by circulating immune cells (e.g. T cells). MHC/peptide complexes are essential for communicating to the immune system that a cell is self, non-self, infected or malignant.

We are particularly interested in the two contagious cancers that circulate in the Tasmanian devil population, DFT1 and DFT2. These tumour cells pass between individuals during biting behavior and tumours form predominantly around the face and neck of infected animals, growing rapidly and causing close to 100% mortality. What began with one individual has now killed many thousands and the Tasmanian devil is listed as an endangered species.

Our research is focused on why and how the MHC system ‘breaks down’ in the case of contagious cancers and has two primary goals. First, we are working on developing a peptide vaccine that could be used to protect the Tasmanian devil in the wild, preventing extinction of this species. Second, our research will enhance our understanding of how cancers avoid the immune system, which could have implications for cancer treatment in humans.

Media articles on contagious cancers, immune evasion and vaccine strategies:

Scientists aim to find a vaccine to save the Tasmanian Devil Solent TV on YouTube describing new efforts at a vaccine against DFTD.

Saving The Devil An interactive multimedia from the Your Genome site of the Wellcome Genome Campus, which tells the story of Devil Facial Tumour Disease and outlines what we are doing to save the species. It is aimed at primary school children.

How Tumours Evade the Immune system An interview with the Naked Scientists.
Vaccine hope for Tasmanian devil tumour disease A nature news article explaining the new strategies for a vaccine against DFTD.

MPhil/PhD research:

Investigation of the molecular mechanisms behind immune escape and recognition of a contagious cancer.
Supervisors: Dr Hannah Siddle and Professor Tim Elliott
Funded by the Gerald Kerkut Charitable Trust

Advanced Devil Facial Tumour Disease
DFTD
A DFTD biopsy stained for B2-microglobulin (MHC class I). Host stromal cells are stain for B2-microglobulin (brown), while DFTD cells (blue nuclei) are B2-microglobulin negative
DFTD biopsy

Research group

Molecular and Cellular Biosciences

Affiliate research group

Institute for Life Sciences (IfLS)

Research project(s)

Identifying peptide candidates for a vaccine against the contagious cancer, Devil Facial Tumour Disease

Cancer is not usually an infectious disease, but in some cases tumour cells acquire the ability to pass between individuals in a population. We are particularly interested in the two contagious cancers that circulate in the Tasmanian devil population, DFT1 and DFT2. Our research is focused on why and how the MHC system ‘breaks down’ in the case of contagious cancers.

Articles

Lecturer

BIOL3064 Cancer Chromosome Biology
BIOL3022 Cell Signaling in Health and Disease
BIOL2022 Immunology, Infection and Inflammation

Tutor

BIOL2022 Immunology, Infection and Inflammation


Module Coordinator
Study Abroad module

Dr Hannah V Siddle
Biological Sciences
Faculty of Natural & Environmental Sciences
Life Sciences Building 85
University of Southampton
Highfield Campus
Southampton
SO17 1BJ

Room Number:85/2043

Telephone:(023) 8059 4202
Email:H.V.Siddle@soton.ac.uk

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