Prof. Lucy Walker
January 19, 13.30: Medical Challenges of the Future
CTLA4 and the future of immunotherapy
The immune system provides vital protection from infection and cancer but needs to be tightly regulated to prevent the development of autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. The ability to augment or diminish the immune response in a controlled fashion holds the promise of boosting anti-tumour responses or silencing autoimmune diseases respectively. This vision has started to become reality with the advent of checkpoint immunotherapy in cancer, with anti-CTLA4 antibodies being the trailblazer. Conversely soluble CTLA4 molecules are used to suppress the immune response in autoimmune diseases. Understanding the molecular basis of the CTLA4 checkpoint, and others, will ultimately empower us to manipulate the immune response in a more precise manner, paving the way for better and safer therapeutic interventions in the future.
About Prof. Lucy Walker
Chair in Immune Regulation, Institute of Immunity and Transplantation, UCL Division of Infection and Immunity, London
“I obtained my B.Sc. in Biology from the University of Nottingham and Ph.D. in Immunology from the University of Bath. Following a postdoc with Prof. Peter Lane at the University of Birmingham I obtained a Wellcome Trust International Travelling Prize Fellowship to train with Prof. Abul Abbas at UCSF. During my time in the USA I developed a novel model to study antigen-specific regulatory T cells (Treg) leading to new insights about the generation and homeostasis of this population. Upon my return to the UK I obtained an MRC Career Development Award to set up my own group at the University of Birmingham. During this period I was able to pinpoint how the T cells that cause diabetes are altered by the presence of Treg and to gain new insight into the phenotype and function of Treg in a number of disease settings. In 2009, I was awarded an MRC Senior Fellowship focusing on CD4 T cell differentiation and regulation in autoimmune diabetes. In January 2013, I relocated to the new Institute of Immunity & Transplantation at University College London to become Professor of Immune Regulation. I have served on and chaired numerous national and international funding committees and currently sit on Wellcome Trust Expert Review Group 4 and Chair the NC3Rs Training Fellowship Panel.”