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Craig Thompson

Technical Summary

Viruses such as flu, common cold coronaviruses, and SARS-CoV-2 are able to re-infect people throughout their lives, in contrast to viruses such as measles, which typically only infect a person once in their lifetime. They are able to do this in a variety of ways, including via mutation or due to the waning of host protective immunity. Our research uses a combination of lab-based and bioinformatic techniques to study how such viruses evade population immunity. Based on these understandings, we develop vaccines to combat them.

An individual’s infection history also influences their ability to fight diseases. In most cases, prior immunity to a virus is protective, whilst in other instances it may be detrimental. Our team has expertise in B-cell immunology which allows us to dissect a patient’s response to vaccination or infection. As well as helping us understand why some individuals have more severe viral infections than others, researching the impact of immune memory on the generation of a protective immune response allows us to make more effective vaccines.

Our vaccines are assembled using novel vector technology utilising a synthetic virology approach for vaccine production. We analyse what a specific vaccine needs for each pathogen from first-principles before creating assemblies of protein and RNA/DNA to enable us to induce robust humoral and cellular immune responses.

We take an interdisciplinary and translational approach to research and welcome individuals from a wide range of disciplines. We use computational approaches to streamline experimental design and automation to speed-up bench-based lab work with ultimately translation to the clinic.

We aim to perform transformational basic research as well as commercialise research when possible and desirable, founding start-ups and licencing patents to the benefit of everybody in the research team.

Selected publications:

Thompson RN, Southall E, Daon Y, Lovell-Read FA, Iwami S, Thompson CP*, Obolski U*. The impact of cross-reactive immunity on the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants. Front. Immunol. 2023 13:1049458. doi: PMID: 36713397

McNaughton AL, Paton RS, Edmans M et alThompson CP. Fatal COVID-19 outcomes are associated with an antibody response targeting epitopes shared with endemic coronaviruses. JCI Insight. 2022 7(13):e156372. doi: 10.1172/jci.insight.156372. PMID: 35608920

Wellens J, Edmans M, Obolski U, McGregor CG, Simmonds P, Turner M, Jarvis L, Skelly D, Dunachie S, Barnes E, Eyre DW, Colombel JF, Wong SY, Klenerman P, Lindsay JO, Satsangi J, Thompson CP. Combination therapy of infliximab and thiopurines, but not monotherapy with infliximab or vedolizumab, is associated with attenuated IgA and neutralisation responses to SARS-CoV-2 in inflammatory bowel disease. Gut. 2022 71 (9), 1919-1922 doi: 10.1136/gutjnl-2021-326312. PMID: 34911744.

Bolton JS, Klim H, Wellens J, Edmans M, Obolski U, Thompson CP. An Antigenic Thrift-Based Approach to Influenza Vaccine Design. Vaccines. 2021 9(6):657. doi:10.3390/vaccines9060657 PMID: 34208489

Dejnirattisai et al. ‘The antigenic anatomy of SARS-CoV-2 receptor binding domain.’ Cell. 2021 184(8):2183-2200.e22. doi: PMID: 33756110

Thompson CP, Grayson NE, Paton RS et al... Detection of neutralising antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 to determine population exposure in Scottish blood donors between March and May 2020. Euro Surveill. 2020 25(42):2000685. doi: 10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2020.25.42.2000685. PMID: 33094713.

Thompson CP, Lourenço J, Walters AA, Obolski U, Edmans M, Palmer DS, Kooblall K, Carnell GW, O'Connor D, Bowden TA, Pybus OG, Pollard AJ, Temperton NJ, Lambe T, Gilbert SC, Gupta S. A naturally protective epitope of limited variability as an influenza vaccine target. Nat Commun. 2018 21;9(1):3859. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-06228-8. PMID: 30242149