Dr John Cason

Dr John Cason obtained a BSc in Physiology and Biochemistry at Queen Elizabeth College (1979, University of London [UoL]) Kensington and then worked as a research assistant at the Royal London Hospital’s Bone and Joint Research Unit (UoL). There he worked on neutrophils from patients with rheumatic diseases and on collagen type II arthritis in rats. After obtaining a Certificate in Immunology from Chelsea College (1981, UoL), he joined St Thomas' Hospital Medical School in 1982 and was awarded an MPhil (1988, UoL) on the interactions between nutrition and the immunological responses amongst patients with inflammatory bowel disease.

He moved to the Department of Virology to study the immune response to human papillomaviruses (HPV) infections. This resulted in the mapping of epitopes recognised by monoclonal antibodies using synthetic peptides and recombinant viral proteins and led to the production of the first true viral chimera (a viable poliovirus containing one of these HPV epitopes), the award of his PhD (1990, UoL) and appointment as the Senior Lecturer in Virology at St Thomas’ Hospital Medical School. Subsequently, John's group studied the transmission and pathogenicity of those human papillomaviruses (HPV) associated with cervical cancer, particularly HPV type 16. We were able to demonstrate that HPV-16 can be transmitted vertically from mother to infant at delivery.

More recently, he demonstrated that: (i) particular variants of HPV-16 are more strongly associated with the development of cervical pre-cancers and cancers than other variants; (ii) the HPV-16 cancer associated variants co-segregate with the expression of human epithelial transcription (POU) factors; (iii) particular amino acids in the E5 oncogene of HPV-16 are responsible for the mitogenic activity of thius protein; and, (iv) HPV-16 infections and cervical intra-epithelial neoplasias are very common complications of systemic lupus erythematosus. Given that highly-effective vaccines to HPV-16 were developed, he initially studied the relationship between murine mammary tumor and human breast cancers; this hypothesis was rapidly disproved. John’s current research interests include: (i) the practical, legal and ethical dimensions involved in the development of the Infectious Diseases BioBank; and (ii) studies of human immunodeficiency virus HIV quasispecies amongst infected patients.