UCL Infection, Immunology and Inflammation (III) Symposium 2016
By Guest Blogger, on 23 November 2016
On Tuesday 8 November, over 300 leading researchers from top London institutions gathered at the UCL Institute of Education for the annual UCL Infection, Immunology and Inflammation (III) Symposium, hosted by UCL in partnership with Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), UCLPartners and the National Institute for Health Research BRC Infection, Immunity and Inflammation (III) Programme.
Professor Hans Stauss (UCL Institute of Immunity and Transplantation), opened the Symposium by highlighting the impact of the research presented annually.
Integration of pathogen and human genomic sequencing
Professor Judith Breuer (UCL Division of Infection & Immunity) started the session by presenting her latest research on the pathology of Varicella Zoster Virus (the cause of chickenpox and shingles), which will help alleviate the side effects of VZV vaccines.
Following an overview of the human oral microbiome by Professor William Wade (Blizard Institute, Queen Mary University of London), Professor Harry Hemingway (UCL Institute of Health Informatics) reviewed Big Data sources available to UK biomedical researchers, including some recent examples of large-scale health record mining used in biomedical research.
Starting off the second session, Dr Melania Capasso (Barts Cancer Institute, QMUL) highlighted the importance of proton channel interactions in supporting tumour growth.
After reminding the room that “ageing, well, is inevitable…”, Professor Arne Akbar (UCL Division of Infection & Immunity) gave us a glimmer of hope by presenting his current research on T-cell ageing.
The last presentation of the morning was Dr Benedict Seddon’s (UCL Institute of Immunity and Transplantation) appetising ‘Sauces and mixtures – recipe for long term maintenance of CD4 memory’. His research brings us a step closer to understanding how CD4 cells regulate immune memory.
Early Career Researchers presentations
Following the networking break, six early career researchers from UCL and QMUL enthralled us with presentations of their research. These presentations give early career researchers the opportunity to gain greater visibility and to make their research knownto the scientific community already established in the field.
The first prize for the best early career researcher presentation was awarded to Dr Neil McCarthy (Blizard Institute, QMUL), for his presentation on ‘Human antigen-presenting yd T-cells promote IL-22 production in naïve and intestinal memory CD4+ T-cells in a TNF-alpha and ICOSL-dependent manner’.
We congratulate him and his fellow early career peers for participating in this competition, and we look forward to their future accomplishments at and around UCL and QMUL.
The immunotherapy session was opened by Dr Claire Booth (UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health). Gene therapy, Dr Booth explained, avoids the complications encountered in grafting non-patient tissues, and has a lot of untapped potential in the biomedical field.
Dr Claire Roddie (UCL Cancer Institute) then presented us with the latest advances in cell therapy. Chimaeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-Cells are growing in use in the US, and have strong therapeutic potential but remain underdeveloped in the UK. Notably, UCL is engaging in this sector through the UCL CAR T-Cell programme.
Professor Adrian Martineau (Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, QMUL) closed the session with his research on ‘Vitamin D in the prevention and treatment of respiratory infection’. Through meta-analysis of clinical data his team have found subpopulations for which vitamin D dietary therapies would be most useful in preventing and even treating respiratory infections.
Inflammation and Tissue Repair
The last session of the day saw Dr William Alazawi (Blizard Institute, QMUL) present his advancements on the role of Stat2 in inflammatory responses.
Dr Helen Lachmann (UCL Division of Medicine) then presented on ‘Late onset CAPS and somatic mosaicism’. Her group showed that patients typically showing no mutations by Sanger sequencing actually exhibit somatic mosaicism, when applying whole-exome sequencing.
Dr Simon Yona (UCL Division of Medicine) closed the session with an excellent reminder of why common nomenclature matters in his presentation on ‘Human mononuclear phagocyte kinetics and health and disease’.
In this year’s poster competition, 42 presenters were given the chance to present their research to the attendees during informal breaks from the symposium.
Prizes were awarded by Professor David Lomas (UCL Vice-Provost (Health), Head of UCL School of Life & Medical Sciences, and Head of UCL Medical School).
- Dr Anjum B Khan (UCL Institute of Immunity and Transplantation) – ‘Targeting therapeutic T-cells to the bone marrow niche’
- Dr Natalie Suff (UCL Institute of Women’s Health) – ‘A light-producing mouse model of Infection-related Preterm Birth (PTB)’
- Lina Petersone (UCL Institute of Immunity and Transplantation) – ‘Contribution of IL-21 signalling to the phenotype of CTLA-4 deficient mice’
This year there was also an additional 3R prize for science or technology development which supports the replacement, reduction and refinement (the 3Rs) of animals in research. The prize was sponsored by the NC3Rs and awarded to Dr Alexander Maini (PhD Student, Centre for Clinical Pharmacology, UCL Division of Medicine) for his poster ‘A Comparison of Human Neutrophils Acquired from Four Experimental Models of Inflammation’.
Each year, the UCL III Symposium allows for new collaborations to be created and is a fantastic opportunity to showcase the outstanding research carried out at the edge of personalised medicine, in some of London’s best research institutions.