Claudia Molina is currently a Research Associate in Professors Uta Griesenbach and Eric Alton’s Gene Therapy Group at the National Heart and Lung Institute. She joined the group in 2019 after a 5 year position as a Researcher in industry, where she worked in Adult Mesenchymal Stem Cell Therapies for the treatment of degenerative and autoimmune diseases. Prior to this she graduated from the University of Kent with a BSc in Molecular and Cellular Biology, and was then awarded a MSc in Molecular Medicine from the University College London and finally a PhD from the University of Oxford in HIV immunology.
Her earlier work investigated the evolution of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) within an individual and at a population level, the aim was to try to understand the mechanisms by which certain HLA class I alleles and CTL responses restricted by those alleles are associated with effective or ineffective control of HIV. Her work suggested that antiretroviral therapy (ART) treatment-for-prevention strategies will be less successful in populations such as those in Mexico, where viral loads are higher for a given CD4 T cell count. Consideration may therefore usefully be given to ART initiation at higher absolute CD4 T cell counts in such populations to optimize the impact of ART for prevention. She was recognized as a member of the National system of Researchers in Mexico in 2015.
Her current work revolves around the design and testing of gene therapies for the treatment of autoimmune Pulmonary Alveolar Proteinosis (aPAP). aPAP is a rare genetic lung disease caused by auto-antibodies against GM-CSF leading to defective surfactant clearance. Accumulation of extracellular surfactants leads to decreased gas exchange. Standard of care for aPAP is the removal of excess surfactants by whole lung lavage (WLL), a procedure which is very demanding, particularly in children and can only be performed at specialised centres, involves prolonged anaesthesia and often requires ventilation in intensive care units. The impact of a new advanced therapeutics treatment for the disease may be significant. The UKCF Gene Therapy Consortium generated a patent-protected novel lentiviral vector pseudotyped with the F/HN proteins from Sendai virus (rSIV.F/HN) specifically designed to achieve high efficiency targeting the lung. This vector is currently being tested for the expression of GM-CSF as a method of treatment for aPAP.
- Claudia I Juárez-Molina, Humberto Valenzuela-Ponce, Santiago Avila-Rios, Daniela Garrido-Rodriguez, Thalía Garcia-Tellez, Maribel Soto-Nava, Claudia Garcia- Morales, Philip Goulder, and Gustavo Reyes-Teran. Impact of HLA- B*35 subtype differences on HIV disease outcome in Mexico. AIDS, 2014 Jul 17;28(11).
- Claudia I Juárez-Molina, Rebecca Payne , Maribel Soto-Nava, Santiago Avila- Rios, Humberto Valenzuela-Ponce, Emily Adland, Ellen Leitman, Jacqui Brener, Maximilian Muenchhoff, Songee Branch, Clive Landis, Gustavo Reyes-Teran and Philip Goulder. Population-level differences in viral fitness is related to frequency of protective HLA alleles in Mexico and Barbados. Journal of Virology, 2014 Sep;88 (18).
- Philippa C. Matthews, Madoka Koyanagi, Henrik N Kloverpris, Mikkel Harndahl, Anette Stryhn, Tomohiro Akahoshi, Hiroyuki Gatanaga, Shinichi Oka, Claudia J Molina, Humberto Ponce, Santiago Rios, David Cole, Jonathan M Carlson, Rebecca Payne, Anthony Ogwu, Alfred Bere, Thumbi Ndung'u, Kamini Gounder, Fabian Chen, Lynn Riddell, Graz Luzzi, Roger L Shapiro, Christian Brander, Bruce D. Walker, Andrew Sewell, Gustavo Teran , David Heckerman, Eric Hunter, Søren Buus, Masafumi Takiguchi, Philip Goulder. Differential clade-specific HLAB* 3501 association with HIV-1 disease outcome is linked to immunogenicity of a single Gag epitope. Journal of virology, December 2012 86:12643-12654.
- Julia G Prado, Andrew Prendergast, Christina Thobakgale, Claudia Molina, Gareth Tudor- Williams, Thumbi Ndung’u, Bruce D Walker, and Philip Goulder. Replicative capacity of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 transmitted from mother to child is associated with paediatric disease progression rate. Journal of virology, January 2010, 84(1):492–502
- Christina F. Thobakgale, Andrew Prendergast, Hayley Crawford, Nompumelelo Mkhwanazi, Danni Ramduth, Sharon Reddy, Claudia Molina, Zenele Mncube, Alasdair Leslie, Julia Prado, Fundi Chonco, Wendy Mphatshwe, Gareth Tudor-Williams, Prakash Jeena, Natasha Blanckenberg, Krista Dong, Photini Kiepiela, Hoosen Coovadia, Thumbi Ndung’u,1 Bruce D. Walker, and Philip J. R. Goulder. Impact of HLA in mother and child on disease progression of paediatric human immunodeficiency virus type 1 infection. Journal of virology, October 2009, 83 (19); 10234–10244.