One Cell at a Time: Understanding Immunity at the Single-Cell Level
Around the world, infectious diseases and chronic inflammatory conditions—such as autoimmune diseases, cancer and transplant rejections—are major causes of illness and death.
But different types of immune system cells can orchestrate the body’s defense machinery against infection and help prevent dysregulated immune responses that can lead to chronic inflammatory diseases. Such cells are critical to our survival—and their activity is the focus of research by Dr. Janilyn Arsenio, Canada Research Chair in Systems Biology of Chronic Inflammation.
Much of our understanding of immune response comes from molecular studies of cell groups. These studies assume that every cell in a defined population is identical. But systems biology analysis at the single-cell level has uncovered molecular differences within cell groups, providing insights into how cellular diversity comes about. Understanding how different functional immune cells are generated during immunity will also help us develop ways to better treat diseases.
Arsenio’s research focuses on addressing how cells differentiate into diverse types to control infections and chronic inflammation. She and her research team are working to define the molecular mechanisms behind how immune cells become different functional regulators of the immune system.
This research will support the development of novel therapies to treat human infectious and chronic inflammatory diseases effectively. It will also help design vaccine strategies and enhance our understanding of immune responses during transplant rejections.