Immunology Research Scope
Research in immunology seeks to elucidate the form and function of organismal defense mechanisms. Immunity, defined as a physiological response to foreign agents aimed at maintaining homeostasis, is mediated by a complex array of humoral (e.g., secreted antibodies and complement) and cellular mechanisms which have been traditionally classified under innate or adaptive immunity. Innate immunity is rapidly activated following exposure to foreign agents (e.g., bacteria and viruses), and represents a first line of defense, but lacks specificity. In contrast, adaptive immunity is engaged at a later time and involves receptors with the capacity to rearrange and recognize an almost infinite number of non-self antigens.
Innate and Adaptive Immunity
Immune responses are carried out by distinct subsets of cellular mediators. Innate mediators express receptors that recognize foreign molecular patterns, allowing the rapid targeting of pathogens (e.g., by phagocytosis). In comparison to innate responses, engagement of adaptive immunity occurs with a delay, but B and T cell receptors allow the identification of a broad diversity of antigens, making adaptive responses highly specific.
Extensive cross talk, via both humoral and cellular mediators, occurs between these two immune modalities. While innate immunity lacks memory and therefore is unable to improve with experience, the ability of innate cells to stimulate and modulate adaptive responses (e.g., through antigen presentation) makes this branch of immunity essential for mounting an effective response.
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Flow Cytometry: The Method of Choice
In immunology research, flow cytometry- a multiparameter single-cell analysis used to measure cell associated fluorescence, has facilitated the study of the great diversity of cells involved in defense mechanisms. For immunologists, flow cytometry facilitates evaluation of:
Additionally, cell sorting in combination with flow cytometry makes possible the isolation of specific cell populations for downstream applications (e.g., proteomic, genomic approaches and functional studies).
- Cellular phenotype
- Protein expression- surface and intracellular (e.g., receptors and cytokines)
- Cell viability and proliferation
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10-parameter flow cytometry in Human whole blood. Human whole blood was stained with the following panel of surface markers: hCD11b A700, hCD14 A405, hCD15 A488, hCD3 PE-Cy7, hCD4 A750, hCD8 PerCP, hCD19 A594, hgamma delta TCR AmCyan, hCD25 BV605, and hCD56 APC.
New Advances in Immunotherapy
In recent years, application of basic immunological principles has supported rapid growth in the development of immunotherapy strategies, particularly for cancer treatment. Among these, the development of Chimeric Antigen Receptor-T cell (CAR-T) based therapies, which rely on the genetic manipulation of T cells to express antibody-based chimeric receptors to efficiently target tumor antigens, have significantly transformed the approach to cancer treatment.
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CAR-T Cell Killing Mechanisms: This content was contributed by Dr. Marco Ruella (June Lab, University of Pennsylvania, PA, USA)
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Cruvinel Wde M, Mesquita D Jr, Araújo JA, Catelan TT, de Souza AW, da Silva NP, Andrade LE. (2010) Immune system - part I. Fundamentals of innate immunity with emphasis on molecular and cellular mechanisms of inflammatory response. Rev Bras Reumatol. 50(4): 434-61. PMID: 21125178
Getz, GS. (2005) Thematic review series: the immune system and atherogenesis. Bridging the innate and adaptive immune systems. J Lipid Res. 46(4): 619-22. DOI: 10.1194/jlr.E500002-JLR200
Golubovskaya, V., & Wu, L. (2016). Different subsets of T cells, memory, effector functions, and CAR-T immunotherapy. Cancers. https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers8030036
Stewart, J. (2012). Innate and acquired immunity. In Medical Microbiology: Eighteenth Edition. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-7020-4089-4.00024-X