Neuro-Immune Interactions in Inflammation
Contrary to what is often thought, the neurons that transmit pain are in constant communication with our immune system cells. While these interactions may be desirable from a physiological perspective, it seems that from a pathological point of view, they cause and worsen chronic inflammation.
To study this phenomenon in greater detail, Dr. Sébastien Talbot, Canada Research Chair in Neuroimmunology, has developed a highly specific pharmacological approach to blocking sensory fibres’ electrical activities. Using this strategy, Talbot and his team are able to characterize sensory neurons’ capacity to detect allergens. They can also study the role played by nociceptors in various processes, including cancer immune-surveillance, healing, and drainage of antigens in the lymphatic system. (A nociceptor is a type of receptor at the end of a sensory neuron’s axon that can perceive harmful stimulation.)
Talbot’s research seeks to define and better understand the mechanisms that control neuro-immune interactions by identifying which sub-population of sensory neurons controls our immune systems’ innate, adaptive responses—and how this process works. His work will support the development of new strategies for treating chronic inflammatory diseases, and will lead to deeper knowledge, cutting-edge technologies, and new treatments for patients.