Our vision is to use human pluripotent stem cells to study immunity and autoimmunity, which will help us understand how our immune system defends against diseases and why it sometimes attacks itself. 

Unlocking secrets of immunity and autoimmunity 

Our laboratory is unravelling the mysteries of our immune system using human pluripotent stem cells. Led by Professor Ed Stanley, we create immune cells to help us understand how our body defends itself against infections and why it sometimes falters, causing autoimmune diseases like type 1 diabetes. 

In addition to immune cells, we also make the tissue cells that our immune system interacts with, including lung cells and insulin-producing pancreatic cells. Like detectives recreating a crime scene, we mix our immune cells and tissue cells to understand how they talk to each other in the body.  

To study autoimmunity, we make immune cells resembling those of people who have type 1 diabetes. These cells are then combined with pancreatic insulin-producing cells to recreate the autoimmune environment. We can then observe the interaction between these actors, helping us to understand why immune cells turn against their own body.   

Led by Dr Rhiannon Werder, we have a team investigating chronic lung issues that arise in childhood like asthma and pulmonary fibrosis. We're also delving into common infections caused by viruses and bacteria, including the common cold, influenza, and COVID-19. Our overall goal is to find novel therapies to alleviate the burden of these respiratory challenges. 

In the Immune Development Laboratory, we blend science and innovation to create a healthier world for children fighting infections and living with autoimmune diseases. By uncovering the inner workings of our immune system, we are contributing to the development of new treatments, cellular therapies and perhaps one day, potential cures.

Macrophage Infected with Myco 2

Image: Inspired by transmission electron microscopic imagery, this artwork illustrates macrophages (red) as the immune system's vigilant "police," detecting and eliminating harmful invaders like mycobacteria (green), by Kathleen Strumila.

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