Dr Dave Cole - Current Projects

Introduction: T cells protect our bodies against pathogens (viruses and bacteria) and cellular malignancies (cancer). 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, and (5) are the root cause of autoimmune diseases (e.g. multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis).

The T cell receptor (TCR), on the surface of a T cell, binds to protein fragments derived from foreign invaders that are presented on CD8 TCR MHC the surface of infected cells. Once a T cell has identified a cell expressing a foreign protein fragment, the infected cell is eliminated. I am currently investigating the exact order of events in the very earliest part of T cell engagement. Recent advances have suggested that artificial T cells can be used to save patients with dangerous infections or cancer.

Aims:

To further investigate the molecular rules that govern the TCR/pMHC interaction

Develop T cells with the abipty to target and destroy cancerous cells

Develop artificially altered forms of the TCR, pMHC, CD8 and CD4 to investigate T cell activation

Investigate the use of soluble receptors, such as the TCR, pMHC, CD8 and CD4 as immuno-modulators

The information gained from this study will enable us to understand how T cells respond to infections, and to design new strategies for producing artificial T cells to target and eliminate cancer cells and germs that cause disease.