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University of Oxford

Name of the laboratory

LRF Haemato-oncology Group
Nuffield Department of Clinical Laboratory Sciences, University of Oxford
Level 4 Academic Block
University of Oxford
Headington, Oxford, OX3 9DU, United Kingdom
+44 1865 220246

Laboratory activity

Prof Alison Banham’s Haemato-oncology group are focussed on identifying and understanding molecular pathways that are fundamentally required for the pathogenesis of human malignancies (particularly B-cell lymphomas). The aim is to then translate this knowledge into the development of novel cancer biomarkers and therapies. The group are particularly experienced in monoclonal antibody production and characterisation and are actively involved in the European Monoclonal Antibodies Network. Together with its extensive network of collaborators the laboratory uses a multidisciplinary experimental approach exploiting a wide range of biochemical, structural, immunological, pathological, cell biology, molecular, and bioinformatics techniques to pursue its research goals. The group are primarily supported by Programme grant awards from the UK charities Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research and Cancer Research UK.

Research activities

1) Therapeutic Antibody Programme

Monoclonal antibodies represent some of the most effective new drugs being used to treat cancer. We have produced novel antibodies targeting the tumour vasculature that recognise both known and novel proteins with a role in angiogenesis, with the aim of generating new drugs that disrupt the tumour blood supply. We have also generated TCR mimic antibodies, which extend the scope of classical therapeutic antibody targets to include intracellular tumour proteins via the specific recognition of tumour-derived peptides presented on the tumour cell surface by MHC class I molecules.

2) Transcriptional deregulation in cancer

The altered patterns of gene expression arising from inappropriate regulation and/or function of key transcription factors cause many human diseases, including cancer. We previously discovered the human FOXP1 forkhead transcription factor and it’s roles in the pathogenesis of both lymphomas and carcinomas, while we identified overexpression of the related FOXP2 protein in the incurable malignancy multiple myeloma. In collaboration with Dr Giovanna Roncador, we were the first to make monoclonal antibodies to the regulatory T-cell marker FOXP3, and have demonstrated across a number of tumour types that these reagents can be used to quantify the numbers of these cells in patients’ biopsies and predict clinical outcomes such as survival or late relapse. Further studies of the FOXP family, and NFIL3 (a transcription factor essential for the NK lineage) are being pursued by studying their expression, regulation, involvement in pathways that affect cellular survival and proliferation, combined with the identification and characterisation of their co-factors and target genes.

3) Lymphoma antigens

Naturally occurring antibodies have been used to identify tumour proteins that are recognised by lymphoma patients’ immune systems via SEREX and protein array screening. These molecules, including a novel cancer testis antigen (PASD1) and an endocytic/lysosomal protein (HIP1R) are being further investigated as new disease markers, prognostic indicators and/or as candidates for vaccine development leading to cancer immunotherapy.

Techniques available

Publications (2014-present)