UCL Cancer Institute


Tumour Immunology, Cellular and Gene Therapy Research Group

Group Leader: Professor Hans Stauss

Our group is located in the newly developed Institute of Immunity, Infection and Transplantation at the Royal Free campus.


Our work predominantly focuses on the cellular immunotherapy and gene therapy of cancer and infection. This ranges from basic science projects (in vitro and in vivo) exploring T cell avidity, function and tolerance, including the development of pre-clinical animal models through to first-in- man Phase I Investigator-led studies of genetically modified T cells for immunotherapy through to extended Phase II and Phase III studies of novel conditioning regimens for allogeneic haematopoietic stem cell transplantation and cellular therapies. We use gene transfer technologies to alter the function and/or specificity of T cells to improve anti-tumour immunity.

PhD Projects

  • Novel approaches for generation of antigen-specific T cells for leukaemia and cancer immunotherapy.
  • Retroviral gene transfer of T cell receptor (TCR) genes into T cells and haematopoietic stem cells to re-direct antigen-specificity and explore mechanisms of tolerance to self-reactive T cells.
  • The generation of MHC class I-restricted tumour antigen-specific CD4+ helper T cells to augment CD8+ T cell mediated tumour immunotherapy.
  • Analysis of functional avidity and signaling pathways of tumour antigen-specific TCRs.
  • Investigation of the role of the CD8 co-receptor in TCR transduced CD4+ helper T cells and conventional CD8+ T cells.
  • Augmenting the effector function of Ag-specific T cells by the introduction of additional CD3 molecules.
  • The generation of pre-clinical models for the evaluation of WT1-specific immunotherapy (WT1 is a tumour associated antigen over-expressed in myelodysplasia (MDS), leukaemias (AML, CML), breast, ovarian, prostate and colon cancers.
  • Isolation of TCRs from T cell clones specific for tumour antigens.
  • Generation of antigen-specific regulatory T cells using TCR gene transfer in murine models of Graft-versus-Host Disease.
  • The genetic manipulation of T cells to improve homing to tumour sites and/or persistence in the hostile tumour microenvironment.
  • The development of clinical GMP grade transduction protocols for the genetic manipulation of T cells for clinical use.
  • The interaction of tumour-specific T cells and tumour associated macrophages.

Translational Clinical Research

  • Immune monitoring in recipients of renal and liver transplants
  • WT1 TCR Gene Therapy for leukaemia: A Phase I safety and toxicity clinical trial
  • CMV TCR Gene Therapy: A Phase I Safety, Toxicity and Feasibility Study of Adoptive Immunotherapy in Allo-HSCT