Professor Andy Sewell

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Professor Andy Sewell

αβT-cells orchestrate immunity and protect against pathogens and cellular malignancies by recognising short ‘foreign’ peptides bound to major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules. The antigen specificity of T-cells is conferred by the highly variable complementarity determining regions (CDRs) of the αβT cell receptor (TCR) that interact with the peptide-binding platform of the MHC. T-cells are some of the most important cells in our bodies as they:

  1. Orchestrate immunity and are key elements in the control of infection
  2. Are important for the natural eradication of cancer
  3. Hold the key to successful vaccination
  4. Are an important factor in transplant rejection
  5. Cause all autoimmune diseases
  6. Mediate many allergic reactions

Thus the interaction between αβTCR and peptide-MHC (pMHC) is one of the most important interactions in biomedicine and is pivotal in many human diseases.

There are two main subtypes of αβT-cell: cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) which recognise peptides in the context of MHC class I (pMHCI) and helper T-cells (Th cells) which recognise peptides in the context of MHC class II (pMHCII). Our work focuses on human T-cell antigens and the receptors that recognize them. We thus have an interest in:

We are currently modifying these interactions with an aim to learn more about how T-cells function and to utilize these molecules in a therapeutic setting.

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