Dr Rajko Reljic is an immunologist who focuses on vaccine development and immunotherapy for tuberculosis (TB).
TB is predominantly a lung disease and mucosal vaccine delivery (i.e. via respiratory route) is potentially the most effective mode of immunisation against the infection. Dr Reljic is involved in developing and testing of a number of mucosal vaccine candidates for TB that could be used to boost BCG (the current, but largely ineffective TB vaccine).
His work involves the use of several mucosal vaccine delivery systems, including nanoparticles, inactivated bacterial spores, liposomes and self-adjuvanting recombinant immune complexes. The main feature of these new vaccine candidates is that they are designed to target specific cell surface receptors and tissues in the mucosa of the lung in order to improve vaccine delivery and induce appropriate immune responses.
He is the scientific lead and the Coordinator of the EMI-TB consortium, a European Union-funded TB vaccine initiative that involves 14 research groups from Europe and Africa.
Dr Reljic is also focused on immunotherapy as an adjunct treatment for TB, especially in drug-resistant disease. This involves the use of Th1 cytokines (i.e. interferon gamma) and monoclonal antibodies, and in particular IgA. His collaborative studies utilising a mouse model of TB infection have shown that immunotherapy with monoclonal IgA, IFN-gamma and IL-4 neutralising antibodies ('Combined immunotherapy', CIT) can profoundly inhibit early TB infection and importantly, prevent relapse following drug treatment.
Most recently, they have generated and characterised a human IgA antibody that substantially reduced TB in human CD89 receptor transgenic mice. This was a collaborative study between St George’s, Kings College London and Dundee University. The CIT treatment is currently being evaluated against multi-drug (MDR) TB infection with very encouraging early results.
Dr Reljic joined St George's in 2006 when he was appointed Lecturer in Molecular Immunology. He was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2010 and Reader in 2015.
Dr Reljic had previously been a Research Fellow at King's College London (2000 to 2006), working on a European Union-funded project investigating immunotherapy of tuberculosis with Professor Juraj Ivanyi. He completed his PhD at King’s College in 1996, working with Professor Hannah Gould, where he investigated the interactions between the antibody Immunoglobulin E and its receptors.
He undertook his postdoctoral training in the laboratory of Professor Douglas Fearon at the University of Cambridge (1996-2000) where he investigated the mechanisms regulating B cell development and differentiation.
Dr Reljic graduated from the University of Zagreb, Croatia, in 1989, and completed his MSc at the MRC National Institute for Medical Research in Mill Hill, London, in 1992.
Dr Reljic is the Scientific Coordinator of the EMI-TB consortium, an EU-funded H2020 project for development of a mucosal TB vaccine.
He is a member of the Aerosol and Mucosal TB vaccine Community of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation sponsored Collaboration for TB Vaccine Development (CTBVD).
Dr Reljic is a member of Acid Fast Club, UK.
Diogo GR, Reljic R. Development of a new tuberculosis vaccine: is there value in the mucosal approach? (2014) Immunotherapy. 6: 1001-13.
Sibley L, Reljic R, Radford DS, Huang JM, Hong HA, Cranenburgh RM, Cutting SM. Recombinant Bacillus subtilis spores expressing MPT64 evaluated as a vaccine against tuberculosis in the murine model. FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2014 Sep; 358(2):170-9.
Pepponi, I., G. R. Diogo, E. Stylianou, C. J. van Dolleweerd, P. M. Drake, M. J. Paul, L. Sibley, J. K. Ma, and R. Reljic. 2014. Plant-derived recombinant immune complexes as self-adjuvanting TB immunogens for mucosal boosting of BCG. Plant biotechnology journal. 2014. doi: 10.1111/pbi.12185. [Epub ahead of print].
Reljic, R., L. Sibley, J. M. Huang, I. Pepponi, A. Hoppe, H. A. Hong, and S. M. Cutting. 2013. Mucosal vaccination against tuberculosis using inert bioparticles. Infection and immunity 81: 4071-4080.
Stylianou, E., G. R. Diogo, I. Pepponi, C. van Dolleweerd, M. A. Arias, C. Locht, C. C. Rider, L. Sibley, S. M. Cutting, A. Loxley, J. K. Ma, and R. Reljic. 2014. Mucosal delivery of antigen-coated nanoparticles to lungs confers protective immunity against tuberculosis infection in mice. European journal of immunology 44: 440-449.
Pepponi I, Stylianou E, van Dolleweerd C, Diogo RG, Paul MJ, Drake PMW, MaJKC and Reljic R. Immune-Complex mimics as a molecular platform for adjuvant-free vaccine delivery. PLoS One. 2013, 23;8(4).
Balu S, Reljic R, Lewis MJ, Pleass RJ, McIntosh R, van Kooten C, van Egmond M, Challacombe S, Woof JM, Ivanyi J. A novel human IgA monoclonal antibody protects against tuberculosis. J Immunol. 2011, 186: 3113-9.
Reljic R and Ivanyi J. A case for passive prophylaxis against TB. Lancet Infect. Dis. 2006, 6: 813-18.
Reljic R, Wagner SD, Peakman LJ and Fearon DT. Suppression of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3-dependent B lymphocyte terminal differentiation by BCL-6. J. Exp. Med. 2000, 192: 1841-1847.
Dr Matthew Paul, Project Manager
Dr Harry Thangaraj, part-time IP manager
Dr Peter Hart
Dr Alastair Copland
Dr Gil Diogo
Mr Andy Tran, PhD student
Ms Rebecca Flynn, PhD student (second supervisor)
Mr Joe Fenn, PhD student (second supervisor)
Miss Hannah Painter, PhD student (with Helen Fletcher at LSHTM)
Mr Shane Harris, MSc student
Recent PhD students: Elena Stylianou, Ilaria Pepponi and Daryan Kaveh
Dr Reljic is the Scientific Coordinator of the EMI-TB consortium which involves 14 participants; 13 from Europe and one from Mozambique. Further information about collaborative links within this consortium can be found on its website.
Dr Reljic has a longstanding collaboration with Professor Juraj Ivanyi, Professor of Immunology of Infectious Diseases at King's College London, with whom he worked prior to joining St George's.
He also collaborates with Professor Simon Cutting in the School of Biological Sciences at Royal Holloway, University of London.
Recently, Dr Reljic started a collaboration with Dr Miyoung Kim of the Chonbuk National University, Korea, on development of a dengue vaccine.
At St George's, he works collaboratively with Professor Julian Ma, Hotung Chair of Molecular Immunology and Director of the Institute for Infection and Immunity.
EU H2020 proposal, EMI-TB. 2015-2019 (Coordinator; 14 Participants; Eliciting mucosal immunity in tuberculosis’.
SGUL Impact and Innovation Award, 2015-2016 (Julian Ma, Rajko Reljic
and Mi Young Kim; ‘Novel dengue vaccine with improved immunogenicity’.
SGUL Impact and Innovation Award, 2014-2015 (Rajko Reljic and Derek Macallan; ‘Therapy of MDR-TB using novel antibody-enzyme conjugates’.
SGUL PhD studentship project: 2012-2015; (Rajko Reljic and Derek Macallan; ‘Role of IL4-delta2 in tuberculosis’.
SWAN Alliance, 2011-2012: (Simon Cutting, Rajko Reljic and Andreas Hoppe); ‘Mucosal vaccination for TB’.
Enterprise FUND SGUL, 2011-2012: (Rajko Reljic); ‘Novel vaccine platform against tuberculosis’.
Wellcome Trust, Project grant, 2008-2010; (Juraj Ivanyi, Jenny Woof and Rajko Reljic); ‘IgA immunotherapy of tuberculosis’.
Dunhill Medical Trust; Project grant, 2007-2010; Principal Investigator (Rajko Reljic and Julian Ma); ‘Design and evaluation of recombinant immune complex based vaccine candidates against tuberculosis’.
- MRes Biomedical Sciences Course Coordinator for Infection: Course design, planning, management, student assessment and marking
- BSc, MRes and PhD student supervision
- Teaching Immunology and Infection on BSc Biomedical Science course
- Examiner for BSc Biomedical Science undergraduate projects
- Examiner for MPhil/PhD transfers
- Observer for PhD viva exams at St George's
- External and internal (University of London) PhD examiner
- Average 400 hours per year in teaching diary