Peter Johnson : Cancer Research UK
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Peter Johnson

Researcher Peter Johnson profile image

Developing new cancer treatments

University of Southampton
Southampton Cancer Research UK Centre
Somers Cancer Research Building, MP824
Southampton General Hospital
SO16 6YD
United Kingdom

Tel: 02381206186 (Direct)
Web: Lab website

Professor Peter Johnson is the Cancer Research UK's Chief Clinician, and directs the Southampton Cancer Research UK Centre. He is helping to shape the future of our clinical research across the UK. Professor Johnson is a leading expert in lymphoma - a cancer that affects the body's white blood cells. He's also working on new treatments that use the power of the body's own immune system to attack tumours.

Cancer cell survival

When normal cells become damaged, they are either repaired or undergo a process of 'cell suicide' which removes faulty cells from the body. But cancer cells evade this defence mechanism and continue to survive and grow despite extensive damage to their DNA. Together with Professor Graham Packham, Professor Johnson is investigating how lymphoma cells survive.

Their work focuses on a family of proteins that control the balance between cell death and survival in many types of cancer including lymphoma. 

They are also finding out how these proteins are involved in breast and bowel cancer cells. A greater understanding of this balance may yield more effective treatments for these types of cancer.

Harnessing the immune system to fight cancer

Professor Johnson is at the forefront of immunotherapy research. This exciting approach uses the specificity and power of the body's own immune system to target and destroy cancer cells.

Together with Professor Martin Glennie, Professor Johnson is developing monoclonal antibodies that work by alerting the immune system to the presence of cancer. One of these antibodies, Rituximab, is already in use for the treatment of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Professor Johnson's team are developing a range of different antibodies some of which are being tested in early-stage clinical trials.

Professor Johnson has been funded by Cancer Research UK for over 15 years. Through his extensive research efforts spanning both basic science and clinical practice, we hope to make many more immunotherapies available to cancer patients in the future.

Peter Johnson specialises in the treatment of lymphoma, and is the Chief Investigator for several lymphoma trials nationally and internationally, including the RATHL study which investigates the role of CT-PET scanning as a means to guide treatment for advanced Hodgkin lymphoma.