- Antibody Effector Functions
- Monoclonal antibodies (mAb) have become established in the treatment of a variety of malignancies - transforming patient outcomes. Despite this undoubted impact, responses remain variable and their mechanisms of action and of tumour resistance are controversial. Our research is focussed on understanding these complex processes using a variety of complementary models and systems to better inform antibody selection, design and clinical application.
- Current research interests:
- 1. Manipulating tumour microenvironment and effector function to enhance antibody therapy.2. How antibodies that directly target tumours induce therapeutic responses and may be augmented by other reagents.3. The requirement for Fc receptors and effector cell interactions for immunomodulatory antibodies.
- 1. Manipulating tumour microenvironment and effector function to enhance antibody therapy Antibody immunotherapy relies predominantly on activatory Fc-gamma-Receptors (FcγR) expressing macrophages for effector function. However, tumour associated macrophages have a pro-tumour, anti-inflammatory phenotype associated with a poor prognosis and response to a variety of therapeutic interventions. The understanding of how macrophages are manipulated by tumours in vivo and how they may be re-programmed to augment mAb immunotherapy is a critical area of study where data is currently lacking.
His research group is interested in how antibodies work to result in tumour regression. The research is currently focused on how the tumour microenvironment, particularly macrophages, affect effector function and how this could be manipulated to enhance antibody efficacy in patients. They have built a portfolio of complimentary models incorporating in vitro 3D modelling, appropriate in vivo model systems and primary clinical material.
The research group currently comprises; Dr Charles Birts, Against Breast Cancer Lecturer in Antibody Therapeutics (a joint appointment with Professor Max Crispin, Biological Sciences), four postdoctoral fellows, two research technicians, nine PhD students, and two clinical fellows.
Current PhD Students
BM5. Immunology subject lead, lecturer and tutor on Year 1 and 2 Immunology Courses.
BIOL3037 and BIOL6038. Lecturer .
BMedSc/MMedSc. Provides laboratory based projects and research journal club tutorials. Offers 1-2 project placements that investigate direct targeting and immunomodulatory antibody therapy, tumour microenvironment and effector function.
Integrated PhD Cancer Pathway. Lecturer and tutor for ‘Host Immunity to Cancer’ and provides laboratory based research projects. Offers 1-2 project placements that investigate direct targeting and immunomodulatory antibody therapy, tumour microenvironment and effector function.
Stephen Beers graduated from the University of Southampton in 1999 with a first class degree in Biochemistry. Subsequently he was awarded a personal PhD studentship from the BBSRC and graduated in 2003. He then moved to the Cancer Sciences Division (CSD) in the Faculty of Medicine and undertook his first postdoctoral fellowship in Immunochemistry and Immunotherapy. Following two successful postdoctoral positions he was awarded a career track fellowship and established his own group studying antibody effector function.
- Nuffield Undergraduate Research Bursary (1997)
- Celltech Prize for best 2nd year Biochemistry Undergraduate (1998)
- Personal PhD award from BBSRC (1999)
- Career Track Fellowship award from Southampton University School of Medicine (2009)
- 14th ICI World Immunology Congress (oral presentation) (2010)
- Research Prize 2010 - Postdoctoral Association Conference (prize awarded for the best research paper produced by a post-doc in the School) (2010)
- Elected by ballot by Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) Science Research Conference delegates to organise next two ‘Immunoreceptors and Immunotherapy’ conferences in 2018 and 2020 (2016)