Articles

Tolerance-inducing therapies: A how-to guide for vaccinating against autoimmunity

Many of us may know someone who has taken allergy shots. These shots work on the concept of tolerance—that small doses of an antigen in the context of no inflammation or illness leads to the body learning that antigen is safe. When the body is exposed to that antigen again, no inflammation happens because the … Continue reading Tolerance-inducing therapies: A how-to guide for vaccinating against autoimmunity

Positive and Negative Selection of T Cells

Adaptive immune cells, like T cells, play a critical role in protecting our bodies against invading pathogens, a task that relies upon their ability to recognize pathogens as foreign, or ‘non-self’. This begs the question, though, of how adaptive immune cells distinguish between self and non-self. How is it that T cells know to attack … Continue reading Positive and Negative Selection of T Cells

Location Location Location – T cell receptor placement makes or breaks immune response speed!

Much of current  immunology research in is founded on enormous data sets, complex interactions, and computer modeling - tackling the microbiome or the origins of autoimmune disease, for example. Fundamental discoveries can seem few and far between amidst Big Data (data sets of size and complexity that computers are required for analysis, ‘-omics (proteomics, genomics, … Continue reading Location Location Location – T cell receptor placement makes or breaks immune response speed!

How-to make: a T cell receptor (the simpler version)

T cell receptors are required for the activation, regulation, and function of T cells. TCRs are generated by the random joining of gene segments in the TCR gene loci. TCR assembly occurs through a process called V(D)J recombination, so named for the gene segments joined to make the β–chain of the TCR and the heavy … Continue reading How-to make: a T cell receptor (the simpler version)

When friend becomes foe: gut bacteria triggers autoimmunity in mice and humans

The history of medicine and epidemiology is full of “bad bug” stories---bacteria have a reputation for causing many horrible diseases like cholera and tuberculosis. More recently, however, research efforts like the Human Microbiome Project have turned to investigating the role that “ good bacteria” plays in everyday health. The human microbiome is complex, and consists … Continue reading When friend becomes foe: gut bacteria triggers autoimmunity in mice and humans

The Mighty, Mighty Microbiome

The microbiome is a group of microorganisms living in a particular environment (for example, the human gut).  These microorganisms are not just limited to bacteria: viruses, fungi, and archaea can also be present. Microbiomes are not limited to humans or even to mammals--insects and plants have microbiomes that are crucial for their health.  Microbiomes are … Continue reading The Mighty, Mighty Microbiome

Regulating “self” versus “non-self” – T cell tolerance mechanisms

 Central Tolerance Central tolerance refers to the negative selection step in T cell differentiation. It occurs in the thymus, where newly recombined T cell receptors are screened against a bevy of self-antigens and overactive clones are deleted. See Positive and Negative Selection of T Cells. Clonal Deletion - T cells that recombine a TCR with a … Continue reading Regulating “self” versus “non-self” – T cell tolerance mechanisms

Friendly Fire – an introduction to autoimmune disease

 Autoimmunity is a blanket term describing pathologies where the immune system attacks its host body. The typical paradigm is that the immune system protects us from foreign invaders- pathogens looking for a niche to colonize. In autoimmune disease, the immune system mistakes our body’s tissues for a target- and harms them. Whether due to a … Continue reading Friendly Fire – an introduction to autoimmune disease