Type 2 allergic and anti-helminth immunity

Lead Research Organisation: The Francis Crick Institute


Parasitic worms infect almost 1/3 of the world’s population. We are trying to understand how the host mounts a good immune response with the aim of identifying ways of enhancing this immune responses to kill and expel these parasites.

Similarly, allergic diseases are increasing in many parts of the world. We are trying to understand why the host mounts an allergic immune response with the aim of identifying ways of blocking or inhibiting this immune responses to prevent allergies.

Technical Summary

This work was supported by the Francis Crick Institute which receives its core funding from the UK Medical Research Council (FC001000), the Wellcome Trust (FC001000),and Cancer Research UK (FC001000)

The prevalence of immune-mediated diseases, such as allergy, colitis, autoimmunity and fibrosis, has increased over the past 50 years and continues to plague millions of people in the UK, Europe and around the globe. Similarly, approximately one-quarter of the world's population is infected with parasitic worms (Schistosome, roundworm, hookworm or whipworm).
Mounting an efficient and robust immune response to invading parasitic infections is desired, to mobilise innate immune cells and invoke appropriate tissue responses to kill and clear the parasitic infection. However, mounting a robust immune response to harmless allergens and antigens can lead to allergy; including allergic asthma, rhinitis and food allergies, colitis and autoimmunity. In many cases these immune responses cause damage to local tissue, leading to tissue remodelling, scarring and fibrosis. We use various models and immunological stimuli to investigate the molecular mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of immune-mediated diseases and immunity to parasitic worms.

Our research focuses on the role of adaptive immune cells (CD4+ T cells) that orchestrate and direct immune responses. The development, differentiation and effector function of CD4+ T cells is tightly regulated by both cell-intrinsic and extrinsic factors.
We are investigating cell-intrinsic pathways, including the role of specific transcription factors and regulatory RNAs (such as miRNAs), in the control of gene expression and translation in CD4+ T cells. We are also investigating the role of cell-extrinsic factors (cytokines, extra-cellular RNA molecules and surface receptor interactions) that shape the phenotype and function of CD4+ T cells.


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