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    Dr. Shadi Bokaee is a Lecturer in Biomedical Sciences in the School of Life Sciences, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences.

    She received her undergraduate degree in Biomedical Sciences from Kingston University, London in 2007, and another BSc degree in Biology from Isfahan University, Iran in 2001. She was awarded a PhD scholarship in Immuno-oncology from University of Surrey. Her PhD was focused on targeting Homeobox genes for cancer immunotherapy.

    She is also a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA) and a Fellow of the Institute of Biomedical Science (FIBMS). 

    Past Research

    The aim of my PhD research was to investigate the immunotherapeutic potential of EN2, HOXA1 and HOXB13 (members of the HOX family) as vaccine targets. Immunohistochemical studies on high-density melanoma, breast and ovarian cancer tissue arrays (to assess EN2, HOXA1 and HOXB13 expression respectively) showed a large proportion of cancer cores over-expressing these antigens compared to normal tissues. The autoantibody response to these antigens was examined in cancer patients using ELISA assays. Further to this, a reverse immunology strategy was used to identify several immunogenic HLA-A2 restricted EN2, HOXA1 and HOXB13 epitopes which were observed to generate peptide specific immune responses in the majority of donors tested.

    This was done by repeated peptide stimulation of PBMC from healthy donors and screening against T2 cells loaded with or without the relevant peptide in IFN-γ ELISPOT assays. Alongside this, HOXA1-specific T cells were tested against breast cancer cell lines, suggesting these epitopes are naturally processed and presented. Our findings suggested EN2 and HOXA1 as potential promising targets for vaccine therapy to treat melanoma and breast cancer patients respectively.

    Also, I was involved in another project in which a peptide (HWFT) was developed that blocks the interaction between the Treg specific transcription factor, FOXP3 and its co-factor NFAT. Upon treatment of sorted murine splenocyte populations with HWFT specific apoptosis of Tregs was shown compared to non-Tregs as assessed by annexinV/7AAD FACS analysis. Furthermore, it was observed that HWFT inhibits murine Treg suppressive function in proliferation assays as well as inhibiting the production of the IL-10 suppressive cytokine. However, in humans, HWFT inhibits Treg suppressive capacity without killing. In addition, the effects of HWFT on immune responses against common recall antigens in in vitro assays was assessed using the PBMC of healthy individuals and cancer patients.

    This was compared with anti CD25 depletion as an alternative Treg targeting method. In both systems non-Treg cells were spared, suggesting that this peptide represented a more specific and potentially less toxic method for targeting Tregs to relieve immune suppression than any other current treatment.



    Research Interests

    My main interests are in tumour immunology, immunotherapy and regulatory T cells. Also, I aspire to carry out further research in the areas of targeted therapy of human cancers using monoclonal antibodies, tumour biomarkers and drug-resistance in cancer, identification of novel therapeutic targets and diagnostic markers using monoclonal antibody technology.

    Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

    In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

    • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

    Education/Academic qualification

    Immuno-oncology, Doctorate, Targeting Homeobox genes for cancer immunotherapy, University of Surrey

    2007 → …

    Award Date: 30 Nov 2011

    Biomedical Sciences, Degree, Kingston University

    Award Date: 31 Jul 2007

    Biology, Degree, Isfahan University of Technology

    Award Date: 31 Jul 2001


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