A healthy immune system is vital to protect us against infectious disease. It is also involved in many other processes in the body and imbalances in the immune system have been associated with heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's disease as well as the more commonly known association with autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. A proper understanding of key processes in immunity is needed in order to understand these diseases. However, the immune system is very complex and is made up of a wide variety of cells with a wide variety of functions in a cross-network of influences that are finely balanced to provide the correct balance between protection against pathogens on the one hand, and tolerance to self on the other. We are particularly interested in the cells of the immune system that produce antibodies. Not only are the antibodies themselves vital in protection against disease (many measures of how effective a vaccine is can be correlated with how good the antibodies that were produced in response to the vaccine are), but the B cells that produce the antibodies can help other cells in the immune system.
Our team has ongoing research projects looking at how the immune system changes with age, collaborating with colleagues in mathematics and computational biology. We are in the process of submitting work for publication on the effects of early B cell development on the B cell repertoire and on the character of the different light chains that are used to make antibodies. We also have some early stage projects on the involvement of B cells in breast cancer and on the immune response to Ebola virus disease in West Africa.
Our research would not be possible without the help of our many collaborators (including The Robens Centre, Vaccination UK Ltd, VSO, Charity Challenge, Gane and Marshall), our patient volunteers and our funders : the Dunhill Medical Trust, the Medical Research Council, The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, The Rosetrees Trust, Medimmune .
Healthy ageing needs a good immune system
Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Duke of Kent Building, University of Surrey,
Guildford, GU2 7XH