Étude du développement et de la modulation des lymphocytes T

 

Moutih Rafei

Université de Montréal

 

Domaine :  maladies infectieuses et immunitaires

Programme chercheurs-boursiers - Junior 2

Concours 2017-2018

T cells represent a subset of white blood cells capable of mounting specific and protective immune responses. However, they are only produced in the thymus with no other organ capable of compensating for defective thymic functions. This is indeed problematic as the thymus is almost all replaced by fat tissues with ageing. In addition, it is extremely sensitive to stress, infections and drug treatments. Consequently, a decrease in T-cell production occurs subjecting the host to infections, development of cancer and poor response to vaccines. As immune-deficiency is becoming an increasingly important clinical problem owing to the ageing of the general population and the increasing number of patients suffering from life-threatening infections/cancer, designing new strategies to enhance T-cell recovery and to modulate their activity is needed. Our laboratory is therefore focusing on two main research axes targeting T-cell biology :

  • First, we intend to design and test the efficacy of specific pharmacological agents known to enhance T-cell development in aged subjects or following thymus-damaging treatments such as those normally used prior to bone marrow transplantation.
  • Second, our team is actively working on developing novel vaccination approaches to efficiently activate T cells. More specifically, current cancer vaccines are not effective due to a myriad of technical issues. Our aim is to develop an unlimited ''off-the-shelf'' supply of a new potent cellular vaccine formulation for cancer and potentially infectious diseases as well.

In some, our research program will contribute to strengthening multi-disciplinary collaborations and lead to innovative strategies directed against two key health problems: i) fueling the design of clinical trials for restoring thymic function in immune-deficient patients, and ii) providing superior responsiveness to vaccines.