Designing Next-generation Vaccines and Immunotherapies
B cells are an important part of our immune system: they protect us by producing antibodies that neutralize invading pathogens like bacteria and viruses. Successful vaccines based on activating B cell antibodies have eradicated or controlled many deadly viral infections, including yellow fever, diphtheria and tetanus. Now, researchers are facing the challenge of designing similarly effective vaccines against more variable, complex pathogens.
As Canada Research Chair in Structural Immunology, Dr. Jean-Philippe Julien is investigating B cell antibodies at the molecular level. Using advanced, high-resolution structural and biophysical techniques to gain a clearer picture of how antibodies target cell-surface molecules, he and his research team are uncovering details that vastly improve our knowledge of immune system function.
Julien’s discoveries are providing a blueprint of pathogen vulnerabilities that can be exploited to create next-generation vaccines and immune-based therapies to tackle HIV and malaria. At the same time, his work is guiding the development of antibody-based therapies that can target the cells involved in autoimmune diseases and blood cancers, with a particular focus on childhood diseases such as leukemia and lymphoma.
Ultimately, Julien’s research could improve healthcare and patient outcomes worldwide by advancing the field of molecular medicine. Meanwhile, it is expanding our understanding of the structural basis of our immune system—knowledge that will help eradicate diseases that affect millions of people around the world.