Dr Peter Smith
I studied for a Masters degree at Imperial college London in virology before completing a PhD at Queen Mary University of London studying ‘the non-viral effects of type I Interferon’. I subsequently researched T-cell immunity to Influenza virus and HIV-1 before joining the ICVI team to study Cancer Immunotherapy.
I’m interested in a type of white blood cell called the cytotoxic T Lymphocyte (CTL). CTL’s are able to kill tumour cells and without these cell’s cancer immunotherapy doesn’t work. MY ICVI research is focused on improving the ability of these cells to function so that immunotherapy can work in more people and for people with different cancers. Activation of CTLs is often either inadequate for tumour cell killing or too vigorous, prompting the CTL to self-destruct. I’m focusing on how metabolites from the bacteria in our guts modulate CTL function to improve their ability to kill tumour cells but without causing them to self-destruct. I am also studying how these metabolites interact with chemotherapy with the aim of using this knowledge to improve the immune modulatory properties of chemotherapeutics.
Another way in supporting CTL function is through vaccination. I’m working with Katarzyna Piadel on a project studying how the use of heat killed mycobacterium can help to prime CTL to fight cancer. I also work with Dr Alberto Fusi and Katarzyna on cancer immunotherapy clinical trials. I run the translational research we perform in the ICVI team’s clinical trials lab. Our translational research focuses on investigating clinical trial samples. This enables us to examine the mechanisms of action of different immunotherapies which will allow us to understand how they work and how they might be improved.
I am hopeful that this research will lead to improvements in how we treat cancer patients with immunotherapy and I am very grateful for the support of the ICVI.