The links between nutrient sensing, cell intrinsic metabolism and T cell function in immune-related diseases

Our focus is on the cellular fuels and building blocks that change immune cell functions. Our immune system normally defends us against infections. In a healthy person, T cells (a type of immune cell) recognize infected or cancerous cells and remove them from the body. Normally, immune cells know the difference between healthy and infected or cancerous tissues. When this recognition is lost, it can lead to the development of attack of healthy tissues by immune cells (autoimmunity), the growth of cancer, or to persistent infections. This dysfunction of the immune system can lead to devastating diseases in children. My research aims to better understand how this happens. By comparing the way that biological fuels (sugars, fats and other building blocks) are used by immune cells from healthy people and patients with immune system associated diseases, we will define the cellular the pathways that maintain health or cause disease. This will allow us to target and “dial down” pathways that are driving cells to attack our tissues, or turn these pathways on to help immune cells fight persistent infections and cancerous cells. Ultimately, we hope to help develop new treatments.