The main aim of Graham’s work is to increase our knowledge of the immune system in health and disease and how best to harness the immune system to treat cancer. Current research programmes in basic and translational research include the following.
Antigen Processing and Presentation
We study the basic biology of how antigens are processed and presented by MHC II molecules for recognition by CD4+ T cells – aiming eventually to manipulate these pathways to improve tumour cell killing.
Therapeutic Vaccination to Treat Cancer
Working with colleagues locally, nationally and internationally we have developed a therapeutic vaccine to treat nasopharyngeal carcinoma, a type of head and neck cancer that is associated with Epstein Barr Virus. Our vaccine has completed successful safety testing in phase I clinical trials and, following administration to patients, increases immune responses to EBV proteins that are present in the tumour cells. Subsequent Phase IB and Phase II trials of the vaccine are on-going.
In collaboration with clinical colleagues we study the immunology of several cancers. Most work is currently focusing on Epstein-Barr virus associated cancers (200,000 cases each year). Gastric cancer and DLBCL are of particular interest and the 10% of cases that are EBV-positive could be highly susceptible to appropriate immunotherapies. We are therefore seeking ways to move our therapeutic vaccine into these disease settings. Other interests include extranodal NK-T-cell lymphoma, a rare but highly aggressive cancer and bladder cancer.
Role of Epstein Barr Virus in autoimmune disease
Finally, EBV infection is associated not only with certain types of cancer but also multiple sclerosis. A new project, in collaboration with neurologists, has been recently started to try and understand how EBV infection is linked to this autoimmune disease