Autoimmune diseases are chronic syndromes in which the immune system attacks healthy tissues. Drugs that suppress the immune system can help treat these diseases. But they don’t always work, because they are designed to quiet immune cells that reside in the blood and lymph nodes, the cells’ typical “homes.” In contrast, autoreactive immune cells cause damage in the affected tissues, such as the brain, kidney or other organs.
Dr. Jennifer Gommerman, Canada Research Chair in Tissue-Specific Immunity, is exploring how pro- and anti-inflammatory immune cells migrate to and are maintained within diseased tissues. Ultimately, she and her research team hope their findings will uncover novel treatments for autoimmune diseases.