The Challenge of Natural Killer T Cells
Our immune systems are comprised of a complex web of systems and processes that protect us from disease. Key players in this web are T-cells, blood cells that efficiently fight infection.
Recently-discovered natural killer T-cells regulate immune responses in numerous diseases. The cells operate at the crossroads between the body’s innate and adaptive immune systems. The innate immune system mounts an immediate but generalized response to an invader, while the adaptive immune system is a second layer that tailors its response based on the specific threat. Natural killer T-cells can either help or harm in the body’s response to threats from microbes, auto-immune diseases or cancer.
While it is known what natural, killer T-cells do, it’s still unknown how they work. Dr. Thierry Mallevaey, Canada Research Chair in NKT Cell Immunobiology, aims to better understand these new and ill-understood cells so that they can be used to develop treatments for a large variety of diseases.
He is investigating natural, killer T-cell development and function, with a particular emphasis on their role in intestinal inflammation.
Mallevaey’s research will enable the development of tailored therapies to boost and tweak the body’s immune response in autoimmune diseases and cancer.