Novel mucosal regulators of immune responses is a Research Project for the Regulation of Interferon and Innate Signalling Research Group, under the Centre for Innate Immunity and Infectious Diseases.
The immune response in many mucosal organs has evolved to include specific features to deal with their novel characteristics. The female reproductive tract has to be protected from infections and other diseases, yet needs to remain tolerant to implantation and development of a foetus. The World Health Organisation estimates there are one billion sexually transmitted infections (STIs) annually, which indicates a clear challenge to understand mucosal immunity in the female reproductive tract and manipulate it to generate effective therapies and vaccines. This laboratory has discovered a novel cytokine, called interferon epsilon (IFNe), with potent protective properties against infections. The aim of this project is to characterise the expression profile of this protein, not just in the reproductive tract, but throughout the mucosal immune system and other tissues in the body. The team will then determine how this new protein interacts with the mucosal innate and adaptive immune system in physiological and pathological conditions. Techniques used include immunohistochemistry, cell culture, analysis of immune cells by flow cytometry, functional assays of innate and adaptive cells including macrophages, DC, NK, T and B cells, cytokine assays, mouse models of infection and associated immune response. This exciting research will result in increased knowledge of mucosal immunology and implications for new STI therapies, vaccines and diagnostics.