International Clinical Therapeutic Tolerance workshop, June 2017
Newcastle University held a very successful international workshop on Clinical Therapeutic Tolerance in June 2017, attended by several RACE members.
Every four years, the top names in immunology and immunotherapy gather in Newcastle for the International Therapeutic Tolerance Workshop. This year the meeting drew the largest attendance since the workshop began in 2005. Back then the idea of developing therapies to ‘re-set’ the immune system was well established in pre-clinical models but progress in human autoimmunity and transplantation had been very slow. Many felt it would not be possible to translate the pre-clinical data into patients, and there appeared to be numerous obstacles. Nevertheless, Professor John Isaacs believed the way forward was an international meeting bringing together the key players from across the world.
The first meeting (Therapeutic Tolerance – Myth or Reality?) asked whether tolerogenic therapies were ever likely to play an important role in transplantation and autoimmunity. By the second meeting in 2009 (Therapeutic Tolerance – Closer to Reality?) attendees were able to report on promising developments including the advent of cellular therapies to reprogram dysregulated immune systems. At the third meeting in 2012, we heard of prospective trials of therapies ranging from peptides to cellular therapies. Therefore, it was with some excitement that delegates gathered in June 2017 to hear the results of those trials at a meeting on ‘First-in-Human Data’.
This year, clinicians and scientists - from as far afield as Australia and California - gathered to share exciting data on the first studies in patients. Patients with autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, transplant patients and patients with diabetes and ME. In addition, oncologists working at the other end of the spectrum to ‘break’ immune tolerance joined them. The oncologists described new treatments and therapies promoting immune attacks on cancer cells.
The meeting opened with a keynote address by Professor Ron Germain of the National Institute of Health in the US and his breath-taking time-lapse three-dimensional video showing neutrophil swarming and the immune system in action. Professor John Isaacs introduced the first session on Cellular Mechanisms of Tolerance before handing over to Professor Andy Mellor introducing the session on breaking immune tolerance.
The next day included short presentations on topics as diverse as immune dysregulation in childhood and immunotherapy in Type 1 diabetes, followed by sessions on New Concepts in Tolerance and Biomarkers. In addition to these formal sessions, the debates at the end of the second and third days were one of the highlights of the meeting. Always hugely entertaining, these debates provide a forum permitting scientists to challenge the very foundations of our current research.
The following day continued with three engaging sessions on Cellular Therapies, Peptides, and Tolerogenic Antibody Therapies. Professor Muzz Haniffa gave a standout performance on the therapeutic implications of the new dendritic cell taxonomy, and Professors Mike Ehrenstein and Ethan Shevach debated the controversial topic of whether regulatory T-cells have anything at all to do with the pathogenesis of human autoimmunity!
Professor Lars Klareskog of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm provided a keynote address, describing the work of his team on the etiology of autoimmune disease and the opportunities for early intervention and prevention of rheumatoid arthritis, potentially even before patients have symptoms. This was followed by sessions on Metabolism and Metabolomics including talks on anti-anabolic drugs, immunosuppression, metabolism and inflammation. The final session on Immunotherapeutics included the latest data from Professor Jaap van Laar from Utrecht on haematologic transplantation for autoimmunity before Professor David Wraith wound the session up with a thought-provoking vision for Therapeutic Tolerance twenty years from now in 2037.
Many of the Faculty have agreed to prepare articles based on their talks, for publication in a forthcoming ‘e-book’ in Frontiers in Immunology.
First published: 28 September 2017