Getting a Clearer View of Infections to Develop Better Treatments
Our body’s ability to fight infection involves a precisely coordinated response by immune cells. These cells are always trying to stay one step ahead of the nearly limitless, ever-changing array of potential pathogens. This immune response also represents a delicate balance: too little and the pathogen wins, too much and the result is substantial damage to the body’s tissues.
In the past, our knowledge of specific immune mechanisms was limited to studying cells and pathogens in a petri dish. Although this taught us a lot, it was almost impossible to study the complex interactions between immune cells and the infection within the living host. But more recently, researchers have developed imaging technology that lets us look directly within living tissues and blood vessels to study how immune cells recognize, respond to, and clear pathogens.
Dr. Craig Jenne, Canada Research Chair in Imaging Approaches Towards Studying Infection, will use this imaging technology to identify how pathogens inflict tissue damage and how the immune system responds to it. Jenne and his research team will study how the early immune response recognizes and contains pathogens, and how this rapid response results in specific, long-lasting immunity.
Jenne and his team will also study how immunization tempers these two phases of immunity, leading to better infection clearance and less tissue damage. They will also address how excessive or inappropriate immune responses lead to collateral damage in healthy tissues. The overall goal of Jenne’s research is to identify novel therapeutic targets that will lead to better infection clearance, less damage to surrounding tissues, and improved patient outcomes.