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Cellular immunology: case study

Discovering how immune cells are able to talk to each other.

Principal investigator:
Professor Daniel M. Davis

Using advanced microscopy, we have helped establish new concepts of how immune cells communicate with each other and how they detect signs of disease in other cells.

A new, emerging hypothesis is that immune responses are regulated, in part, by miniscule nanometre-scale changes to the organisation of immune cell surfaces. We are now testing how these changes in cell surfaces impact thresholds at which immune responses are switched on or off.

As well as understanding how immune cells work, we hope this will reveal new ways in which medicines could nudge immune activity up or down.

Specific topics include:

  • understanding how genetic diversity impacts immune responses;
  • studying how immune cells behave differently in states of health and disease;
  • using advanced microscopy to study the mechanics of how immune cells kill diseased cells;
  • comparing the functions and activities of immune cells in different organs of the body.

We also have a wide-ranging programme for public discussion of our work, with many of our lab members giving talks at science, literary and music festivals.