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Department of Microbiology and Immunology
Our recent interests: Tolerogenic vaccination as a means to control Multiple Sclerosis
Most T cells are beneficial because T cells directly provide immunity against viruses, bacteria, parasites, and fungal pathogens. However, some T cells may be detrimental because these T cells attack normal tissues and consequently cause autoimmune diseases. These latter T cells appear to be the cause of diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS). Most scientists agree that in persons afflicted with MS, the vast majority of T lymphocytes provide beneficial immunity whereas only small percentages of T cells cause MS. A central goal of contemporary research is to distinguish the beneficial T cells from the disease-causing T cells and to develop therapeutics to purge the latter T cells from the body.
This research project is designed to use techniques of genetic engineering to produce novel therapeutic molecules to bait and trap the deleterious T cells that are believed to cause MS. These disease-causing T cells will be attracted to the bait which will trigger activation of the trap by releasing high concentrations of a natural immune-regulatory molecule. By this strategy, we hope to specifically trap and purge only those T cells that cause MS without affecting the vast majority of beneficial T cells that are needed for normal health and well-being.