Systems biology of cellular signalling in the immune system
Our laboratory is studying immune cell activation with a particular focus on T cells.
T cells are important white blood cells that continually circulate in the body in search of the molecular signatures ('antigens') of infection and cancer. When encountering such antigens T cells become activated and subsequently initiate immune responses in order to clear these threats. Their inappropriate activation towards innocuous and endogenous antigens leads to allergic and autoimmune responses. A key aim of the laboratory is to understand the 'calculation' that T cells make in deciding to respond to abnormal cells whilst ignoring healthy cells.
The calculation that T cells make is performed by their complex cellular signaling machinery. Given their importance, it is no surprise that many of the signaling proteins that mediate this decision have been identified. Like in other areas of molecular biology, what has emerged is a complex reaction network. The challenge that we now face is no longer to identify new signaling proteins but to understand the interaction among the already identified proteins. Our work aims to directly tackle this challenge using mathematical and experimental tools.
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