Professor Benjamin Fisher MD(Res)

Image of Dr Benjamin Fisher

Institute of Inflammation and Ageing
Professor in Rheumatology

Contact details

Address
Institute of Inflammation and Ageing
University of Birmingham Research Labs
Queen Elizabeth Hospital
Mindelsohn Way
Birmingham
B15 2WB

Ben Fisher is a Professor in Clinical Rheumatology. He has published research papers on Sjögren’s syndrome and inflammatory arthritis and has participated in many national and international collaborations.

Ben is part of a team who designed the recent COVID-19 drugs trial ‘CATALYST’, which rapidly tests new therapies for patients hospitalised due to COVID-19. It is hoped that by using drugs that target the most serious symptoms of the virus, the severity of the disease could be reduced leading to a reduction in the number of patients needing to be admitted to intensive care and ultimately, a reduction in virus related deaths.

Ben is also an integral part of the NIHR Birmingham Biomedical Research Centre.

Qualifications

  • MD(Res) Medicine 2011
  • MRCP 2002
  • MBBS 1999
  • BSc (Hons) Immunology 1996

Biography

Benjamin Fisher studied medicine at the United Medical and Dental Schools of Guy’s and St Thomas’s Hospitals in London, obtaining a BSc (Hons) in Immunology in 1996 and his MBBS in 1999. He trained as a Rheumatologist in London with academic studies at the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology, Imperial College London. Here he worked in the clinical trials unit and completed an MD(Res) on antibodies to citrullinated alpha enolase peptides in rheumatoid arthritis. Following this he was appointed as a Walport Clinical Lecturer at Imperial College. He joined the University of Birmingham as a Senior Clinical Lecturer in 2012.

Research

A key focus of Professor Fisher's current work is on clinical trials in inflammatory disease, especially Sjögren’s syndrome. Sjögren’s syndrome is an autoimmune condition resulting in dryness of the eyes and mouth, alongside a range of other complications that occur in a proportion of patients. Currently there are no existing disease-modifying therapies. However Ben's team have an active clinical trials programme and he presented data from a commercially sponsored trial of a novel agent blocking CD40 at the American College of Rheumatology annual congress in 2017. This was the first trial, to their knowledge, to show positive effects prospectively on a validated measure of systemic activity in a double-blind randomised controlled trial. Professor Fisher is chief investigator for the Optimising Assessments in Sjögren’s Syndrome (OASIS) cohort that has a number of objectives including to identify biomarkers of disease activity from blood, saliva and tissue, that may help inform future clinical trial design. He is a deputy clinical director at the Cancer Research UK clinical trials unit Birmingham, leading the Inflammation and Advanced Cellular Therapies (I-ACT) team.

Ben also has a longstanding interest in risk factors for autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and Sjögren’s syndrome, including autoantibodies and diet.

Lay summary

Sjögren’s syndrome is a disease where the body’s immune system causes inflammation in the glands that produce tears and saliva causing dryness. It is associated with profound fatigue in a large number of patients and together, these symptoms cause a large reduction in health-related quality of life. In a proportion of patients the disease also affects other body systems such as the joints and the lungs. There are no therapies proven to modify the underlying immune disease, but they have an active programme to study new drugs from industrial partners, including those blocking CD40 which in an early trial has shown some promise. CD40 has a role in how cells of the immune system activate each other. Professor Fisher also has an interest in how to measure how active a patient’s disease is, and to understand risk factors for disease such as diet; i.e. what makes a person more likely to develop Sjögren’s syndrome or rheumatoid arthritis, when others do not.

Publications

Recent publications

Article

Nayar, S, Pontarini, E, Campos, J, Berardicurti, O, Smith, CG, Asam, S, Gardner, DH, Colafrancesco, S, Lucchesi, D, Coleby, R, Chung, M-M, Iannizzotto, V, Hunter, K, Bowman, SJ, Carlesso, G, Herbst, R, McGettrick, HM, Browning, J, Buckley, CD, Fisher, BA, Bombardieri, M & Barone, F 2022, 'Immunofibroblasts regulate LTα3 expression in tertiary lymphoid structures in a pathway dependent on ICOS/ICOSL interaction', Communications Biology, vol. 5, no. 1, 413. https://doi.org/10.1038/s42003-022-03344-6

CATALYST investigators, Fisher, B, Veenith, T, Slade, D, Gaskell, C, Rowland, M, Whitehouse, T, Scriven, J, Parekh, D, Balasubramaniam, M, Cooke, G, Morley, N, Gabriel, Z, Wise, M, Porter, J, McShane, H, Ho, L-P, Newsome, P, Rowe, A, Sharpe, R, Thickett, D, Bion, J, Gates, S, Richards, D, Kearns, P & Mussai, F 2022, 'Namilumab or infliximab compared with standard of care in hospitalised patients with COVID-19 (CATALYST): a randomised, multicentre, multi-arm, multistage, open-label, adaptive, phase 2, proof-of-concept trial', The Lancet Respiratory Medicine. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2213-2600(21)00460-4, https://doi.org/10.1016/s2213-2600(21)00460-4

Pucino, V, Turner, JD, Nayar, S, Kollert, F, Rauz, S, Richards, A, Higham, J, Poveda-Gallego, A, Bowman, SJ, Barone, F & Fisher, BA 2022, 'Sjögren's and non-Sjögren's sicca share a similar symptom burden but with a distinct symptom-associated proteomic signature', RMD Open, vol. 8, no. 1, e002119. https://doi.org/10.1136/rmdopen-2021-002119

Veenith, T, Fisher, BA, Slade, D, Rowe, A, Sharpe, R, Thickett, DR, Whitehouse, T, Rowland, M, Scriven, J, Parekh, D, Bowden, SJ, Savage, JS, Richards, D, Bion, J, Kearns, P, Gates, S & CATALYST Trial Investigators 2021, 'CATALYST trial protocol: a multicentre, open-label, phase II, multiarm trial for an early and accelerated evaluation of the potential treatments for COVID-19 in hospitalised adults', BMJ open, vol. 11, no. 11, e050202. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2021-050202

Bowman, S, Fox, R, Dörner, T, Mariette, X, Papas, A, Grader-Beck, T, Fisher, B, Barcelos, F, De Vita, S, Schulze-Koops, H, Moots, R, Junge, G, Woznicki, J, Sopala, M, Luo, W-L & Hueber, W 2021, 'Safety and efficacy of subcutaneous ianalumab (VAY736) in patients with primary Sjögren's syndrome: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase 2b dose-finding trial', The Lancet. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(21)02251-0

Price, E, Allen, A, Rauz, S, Tappuni, A, Sutcliffe, N, Bombardieri, M, Carty, S, Ciurtin, C, Crampton, B, Duncalfe, L, Fisher, B, Glennon, P, Hackett, KL, Larkin, G, Ng, W-F, Ramanan, AV, Rassam, S, Walsh, SB & Bowman, S 2021, 'The management of Sjögren's syndrome: British Society for Rheumatology guideline scope', Rheumatology (Oxford, England), vol. 60, no. 5, pp. 2122-2127. https://doi.org/10.1093/rheumatology/keaa870

Juarez, M, Diaz, N, Johnston, G, Nayar, S, Payne, A, Helmer, E, Cain, D, Williams, P, Devauchelle-Pensec, V, Fisher, B, Giacomelli, R, Gottenberg, J-E, Guggino, G, Kvarnstrom, M, Mariette, X, Ng, W-F, Rosas, J, Burson, J, Triolo, G, Barone, F & Bowman, S 2020, 'A phase 2 randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, proof-of-concept study of oral seletalisib in primary Sjögren’s syndrome', Rheumatology. https://doi.org/10.1093/rheumatology/keaa410

Fisher, B, Szanto, A, Ng, W-F, Bombardieri, M, Posch, M, Papas, A, Farag, A, Daikeler, T, Bannert, B, Kyburz, D, Kivitz, A, Carsons, S, Isenberg, D, Barone, F, Bowman, S, Espie, P, Floch, D, Dupuy, C, Ren, X, Faerber, P, Wright, A, Hockey, H-U, Rotte, M, Milojevic, J, Avrameas, A, Valentin, M-A, Rush, J & Gergely, P 2020, 'Assessment of the anti-CD40 antibody iscalimab in patients with primary Sjögren's syndrome: a multicentre, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, proof-of-concept study', The Lancet Rheumatology, vol. 2, no. 3, pp. e142-e152. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2665-9913(19)30135-3

ESSENTIAL (EULAR Sjögren's Syndrome Study Group), HarmonicSS (H2020), Colafrancesco, S, Priori, R, Smith, C, Minniti, A, Iannizzotto, V, Pipi, E, Lucchesi, D, Pontarini, E, Nayar, S, Campos, J, Arienzo, F, Fusconi, M, Cerbelli, B, Giordano, C, Valesini, G, Bombardieri, M, Fisher, B & Barone, F 2020, 'CXCL13 as biomarker for histological involvement in Sjögren’s Syndrome', Rheumatology (Oxford, England), vol. 59, no. 1, pp. 165-170. https://doi.org/10.1093/rheumatology/kez255

Ramos-Casals, M, Brito-Zeron, P, Bombardieri, S, Bootsma, H, De Vita, S, Dorner, T, Fisher, B, Gottenberg, J-E, Hernandez-Molina, G, Kocher, A, Kostov, B, Kruize, A, Mandl, T, Ng, W-F, Retamozo, S, Seror, R, Shoenfeld, Y, Siso-Almirall, A, Tzioufas, A, Vitali, C, Bowman, S & Mariette, X 2020, 'EULAR recommendations for the management of Sjögren's syndrome with topical and systemic therapies', Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, vol. 79, no. 1, 216114, pp. 3-18. https://doi.org/10.1136/annrheumdis-2019-216114, https://doi.org/10.1136/annrheumdis-2019-216114

Comment/debate

Fisher, B 2020, 'Is it the end of the road for abatacept treatment in Sjögren's syndrome?', The Lancet Rheumatology. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2665-9913(20)30002-3

Letter

Kollert, F, Pucino, V, Nayar, S, Turner, J, Rauz, S, Richards, A, Higham, J, Poveda Gallego, A, Brown, R, Bates, T, Bowman, S, Barone, F & Fisher, B 2022, 'History of tonsillectomy is associated with glandular inflammation in Sjögren's disease', Rheumatology (Oxford). https://doi.org/10.1093/rheumatology/keac096

Preprint

Veenith, T, Fisher, BA, Slade, D, Rowe, A, Sharpe, R, Thickett, DR, Whitehouse, T, Rowland, M, Scriven, J, Parekh, D, Bowden, SJ, Savage, JS, Richards, D, Bion, J, Kearns, P & Gates, S 2021 'CATALYST trial protocol: a multicentre, open-label, phase II, multi-arm trial for an early and accelerated evaluation of the potential treatments for COVID-19 in hospitalised adults' medRxiv, pp. 1-15. https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.02.10.21251478

Fisher, BA, Veenith, T, Slade, D, Gaskell, C, Rowland, M, Whitehouse, T, Scriven, J, Parekh, D, Balasubramaniam, MS, Cooke, G, Morley, N, Gabriel, Z, Wise, MP, Porter, J, McShane, H, Ho, L-P, Newsome, PN, Rowe, A, Sharpe, R, Thickett, DR, Bion, J, Gates, S, Richards, D & Kearns, P 2021 'Namilumab or infliximab compared to standard of care in hospitalised patients with COVID-19 (CATALYST): a phase 2 randomised adaptive trial' medRxiv, pp. 1-26. https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.06.02.21258204

Review article

Kollert, F & Fisher, B 2020, 'Equal rights in autoimmunity: is Sjögren`s syndrome ever ‘secondary’?', Rheumatology. https://doi.org/10.1093/rheumatology/keaa009

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