Human herpesviruses are common and widespread, infecting more than 90 per cent of people around the world. Although healthy individuals are often asymptomatic when infected, these viruses can cause severe symptoms or even death in people with suppressed immune systems, including those with cancer. As Canada Research Chair in Virus–Host Interactions, Dr. Zakia Djaoud hopes to change this by studying the use of immune cells, such as ?d T cells, to treat cancerous tumours and herpesvirus-infected cells.
She and her research team are using state-of-the art technologies to figure out how herpesviruses and genetics act together to regulate ?d T cell immunity. Their long-term goal is to identify better strategies for harnessing ?d T cells in immunotherapy. Ultimately, their work will benefit immunocompromised Canadians, including patients with cancer.