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The University of Southampton
Institute for Life Sciences

Translational Immunology

Examples of the interdisciplinary research within the Translational Immunology theme:

Location: The Southampton University Hospital NHS Trust and the University of Southampton have recently joined forces to build the Southampton Centre for Biomedical Research to support translational research. The Translational Immunology Partnership will operate a laboratory in this complex dedicated to the development of immunological assays that are validated and comply with regulatory authorities, thereby speeding up the pathway from discovery to application. Under the IFLS umbrella, The Translational Immunology Partnership will link this laboratory to the new Centre for Hybrid Biodevices in the Life Sciences Building thereby creating a pipeline for the rapid development testing and validation of new devices.

Tissue Based Immune responses: Investigating immune responses, at the level of individual cells in situ is very difficult in living organisms - but crucially important if we are to understand the mechanisms of inflammatory disease, autoimmunity, our natural immunity to cancer and our response to vaccines. In collaborations between Medicine, ECS and Chemistry, we have developed organotypic models using epithelial cells combined with various types of stromal cell (fibroblasts, lymphocytes, macrophages, dendritic cells, mast cells), and are advancing them through use of microfabrication techniques. We create artificial tissue constructs exploiting microfluidics to enable delivery of immune or inflammatory cells to the ‘tissue'. Bringing together our combined expertise in this area will significantly enhance our capacity to study the role of the microenvironment in the development and progression of immune responses in different disease areas including respiratory disease, cancer, and dermatitis.

Next Generation technologies for immunological monitoring: We are developing and validating new technologies for immunometry, including the use of impedance spectroscopy for analysis of barrier function, label free cell sorting and point of care blood cell analysis (a collaboration between ECS, Medicine and Philips), use of nanowire arrays for multiplexed detection of biomarkers of viral infection and immune function in serum (a collaboration between Medicine, ECS and Chemistry), use of multiplexed microfluidic devices for continuous cell growth combined with multi-parametric sampling and analysis, and cell monolayer manipulation with ultrasound standing waves (sonotweezers; ISVR, Medicine, Chemistry) for human cell-based soft tissue engineering. We will continue to develop surface enhanced Raman spectrospcopy (SERS) for high sensitivity analysis of the DNA and protein "immunome" and MHC:peptide and CD1:glycolipid arrays for immunoprofiling innate and adaptive response specificity in small samples.

Systems modelling of immunodominance: We have developed a dynamical systems model of how infected organisms select antigens for presentation to the T cells of our immune system, in collaboration with Microsoft Research. Understanding this process is important for predicting the efficacy of immune responses to infections and importantly for designing effective vaccines, and we are extending this work to higher levels of complexity in order to develop more predictive models of immune responses in vivo.

Immunological Chemistry and structural biology: Our pioneering studies on lipid antigen presentation to human invariant Natural Killer T cells (iNKT) have provided key structural insights that underpin the function of this important regulatory subset of immune cells, and have identified them as potential therapeutic targets in cancer and autoimmune disease. In a collaboration between Medicine, Biological Sciences and Chemistry, we have synthesized and functionally validated novel iNKT stimulatory lipid antigens for use as research tools and potential therapeutics. We are learning more about how the antigen presenting molecules (MHC class I and II for T cells and CD1 for iNKT cells) load up with cargo to do their job by combining molecular modelling techniques with protein crystallography and NMR spectroscopy in a collaboration between Medicine, Biological Sciences and Chemistry)


Translational Immunology


Biomedicine Research Projects

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