Immunology and Immunodeficiency
Our focus is on understanding the development and function of particular types of white blood cells: the cells of the immune system that protect us against infectious diseases and that are responsible for the success of vaccination strategies.
Specifically, we study the cellular and molecular biology of B cells, which produce antibodies; a specialised population of “helper” T cells that co-ordinates the activity of B cells, allowing them to become antibody-producing cells; and “cytotoxic” T cells which are responsible for recognising and killing virus-infected or malignant cells. We are particularly interested in understanding how the immune system responds to infections or vaccinations, such that it can provide us with a ‘memory’ of the response so that following subsequent exposure to the same infectious agent, our immune systems will respond more rapidly, robustly and efficiently.
The goal of research performed in the Tangye lab is to determine how genetic defects in B cells and T cells underlie the development and clinical features of human primary immunodeficiencies. This is achieved by studying lymphocyte development, signalling, differentiation and effector function in patients with diseases resulting from monogenic loss-of-function mutations in key regulators of immune responses, as well as in corresponding animal models of these human conditions.
In the past few years, the lab has provided significant insight into the requirements for the development and differentiation of human lymphocytes, and how these processes are compromised in immune deficiencies
Overall, we hope to identify means to improve the immune response in individuals with immunodeficiencies and ways by which the immune system of patients with autoimmune diseases could be attenuated.