Immunobiology of Infection
Department of Immunology
Head: Caroline Demangel (PhD)
Our recently created Unit (2011) studies the mechanisms employed by pathogenic mycobacteria to establish chronic infections in human hosts. Mycobacterium tuberculosis, M. leprae and M. ulcerans, the causative agents of Tuberculosis, Leprosy and Buruli ulcer respectively, have evolved complex strategies to evade or suppress the host immune responses. We are particularly interested in the role played by bacterial cell wall lipids that are strategically located at the interface with the immune system and play dual roles in virulence and host immunomodulation. Our objectives are to:
(i) dissect the molecular mechanisms by which such lipids modulate immune responses
(ii) mine mycobacterial lipidomes for novel immunomodulatory compounds
(iii) translate our basic knowledge of these bioactive molecules into better treatments against mycobacterial infections and other pathologies.
To this end, we use a trans-disciplinary approach based on lipid biochemistry, cell biology, relevant animal models and human immunology and often interact with organic chemists, microbiologists and clinicians working in endemic areas.