The regulation of antibody responses in early life
Respiratory infections are particularly devastating during early life. These infections, and many common vaccines, generate far less effective antibody responses in infants which allow for re-infections. Our group is interested in dissecting the precise mechanisms behind reduced antibody production in infancy. Using our knowledge of antibody regulation, especially T follicular helper cells, we aim to enhance these infant antibody responses. In particular we study Respiratory Syncytial Virus, the major cause of infant hospitalization in the western world, and a virus that rarely provides long lasting immunity. Project funded by the Wellcome Trust and Royal Society.
The role of Tfh in chronic respiratory inflammation
Chronic inflammation, infection or environmental exposure often results in dysregulated production of antibodies. Allergic airway disease for instance is the result of continuous exposure to low doses of common environmental particles (e.g. House dust mites, fungal spores or animal danders) and is often characterised by the presence of allergen specific IgE antibodies that promote disease. Using advanced murine models that replicate many of the key features of the allergic lung we are identifying a number of new aspects of antibody dysregulation. The project is in collaboration with Professor Clare Lloyd and team. Project funded by the Medical Research Council and Asthma UK (As part of the MRC-Asthma UK centre for Allergic Mechanisms of Asthma) and The Wellcome Trust and Royal Society.
The role of the IL-6 family of cytokines in regulating CD4+ T cell fate and function
The IL-6 family of cytokines have a diverse range of function throughout the body. We have previously found that signalling provided by IL-6, IL-27 and their common signalling molecule gp130, can regulate the differentiation, survival and function of T follicular helper cells. Through this pathway we can potentially promote, reduce or modulate the type and scale of antibody produced in vivo. We are therefore dissecting the molecular pathways by which IL-6 cytokines regulate Tfh biology using both human tissue and murine models. Project funded by the Wellcome Trust, Royal Society, The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and MedImmune.