Immunobiology (Rega Institute)
This unit operates in close association with the Division of Molecular Immunology (J. Van Damme). Together these teams investigate the immunobiology of inflammation, auto-immunity and cancer, with emphasis on the role of cytokines (interferons, interleukins, cytotoxins and chemokines) and cellular proteases (plasminogen activators, collagenases, etc.) Projects and milestones in this framework comprise: - Identification in molecular and biological terms of novel cytokines and extracellular proteases from natural sources, in particular leukocytes and tumor cells. - Elaboration of strategies for production of these molecules in pure form and for cloning and expression of their genes. - Clarification of the role of glycosylation in the biological function of the molecules under study. - Development of relevant biological and immunochemical assay systems. - Establishment and refinement of in vitro and in vivo model systems for studying the role of cytokines and proteases in diseases involving the immune system: infectious disease, allergy, auto-immune disease (multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis), cancer and organ transplantation. - Development genetically engineered anti-cytokine antibodies as an approach to develop anti-cytokine-based forms of therapy. - Advanced technology systems available in the unit include gas phase amino acid sequencing and automated nucleic acid sequencing and automated peptide systhesis.