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Dr. Hancock and Wendy doing lab workThis project is in collaboration with:

Professor Lucy Dorrell, Associate Professor, Senior Clinical Research Fellow and Honorary Consultant in Genitourinary / HIV Medicine at the Nuffield Department of Medicine.

Human papillomaviruses (HPV) are responsible for virtually all cases of cervical cancer and a significant proportion of other anogenital and oropharyngeal cancers. Half a million cases of cervical cancer occur each year in low and middle income countries, largely due to the lack of cytological screening programmes. Licensed HPV vaccines are highly effective in preventing incident infection and consequent pre-malignant disease and could substantially reduce cervical cancers in resource-poor setting if widely implemented. However, there remains a gap in coverage for the millions of women already persistently infected with high-risk HPV. In addition, there is a lack of effective screening for other HPV-driven anogenital cancers.

HPV is an attractive target for immunotherapeutic approaches to induce or enhance cell-mediated immunity and thus eliminate persistent infection and / or induce regression of dysplastic lesions. However, approaches tested to date have had modest potency and have focused on only one or two high-risk (HR) genotypes. In collaboration with Dr Nicola Ternette at the Jenner Institute and TDI Mass Spectrometry Laboratory, we are aiming to screen MHC-associated peptide sequences presented on primary HPV-driven anogenital cancer tissues for suitable T cell targets. Identified antigen candidates will then be selected and evaluated for their suitability in immunotherapeutic approaches for distinct HR genotypes by implementing them into viral vectors in collaboration with Dr Arturo Reyes-Sandoval at the Jenner Institute.

This project is supported by Oxford Cancer Research Centre Development Fund, Cancer Research UK and MRC Confidence in Concept