Immunology is the study of the body's defence mechanisms, from the barrier of skin to the workings of the cellular immune system. Our Immunology podcasts describe the work of NDM researchers to understand the molecular processes of the immune system, and its role in infection, inflammation, and disease.
Atherosclerosis and immunity by Professor Chris O'Callaghan
Professor Chris O'Callaghan tells us about the role of our immune system in vascular disease. The accumulation of fat in the arteries, such as cholesterol, can cause a thickening of the artery wall known as atherosclerosis. Professor Chris O'Callaghan is researching the role of the innate immune system in atherosclerosis to better understand immune responses to vascular disease. This may lead to improved treatments. Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/
Structural cell biology of virus infection
Professor Kay Grunewald tells us how structural cell biology can help us understand virus infection. Cells constitute the smallest autonomous units of life. The tightly regulated structural and functional organisation is currently only rudimentary understood. Professor Kay Grünewald uses electron cryotomography in combination with other techniques to analyse virus' 'life cycle' in situ, which requires an understanding of its transient structures at the molecular level. Imaging techniques allow us to understand the communication between the virus and the components of the cell it is infecting, which can ultimately help to treat infectious diseases. Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/
Professor Graham Ogg talks about the role of our skin as a barrier against infection. Skin frequently represents the first point of contact with pathogens and allergens, but there is still very little known about the role of the surface immune system in fighting unwanted invaders. Barrier dysfunction can lead to the development of eczema. Understanding these mechanisms can help us develop new treatments targeting the skin, as well as the inflammatory response. Dr Graham Ogg aims to understand the role of skin immune responses by studying common skin diseases and infections.
The lymphatic system in immunity and cancer
Professor David Jackson tells us about the role of the lymphatic system in immunity and cancer. The lymphatic system is a network of vessels collecting the fluids leaked from the blood vasculature. Its filtering function makes it an ideal compartment for the immune system. It is also a pipeline for metastasizing tumour cells to spread to distant tissues. Professor David Jackson studies how leukocytes and tumour cells enter the lymphatic vessels from the surrounding tissues. Professor Jackson's research has the potential to help us better control the spread of tumours, block unwanted immune responses in autoimmune diseases, block tissue rejection and make vaccines more effective. Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/
Dr Christian Eggeling tells us how new imaging methods help us understand immunology at the molecular level. To study complex biological and immunological systems, such as living cells, scientists rely on highly sensitive and non-invasive analysis techniques. Super-resolution optical microscopy allows us to study immunological processes on the molecular level. We can get new insights into how our body reacts to viral or bacterial attacks. Dr Christian Eggeling's research focuses on the application and development of superior, ultra-sensitive, live-cell fluorescence microscopy techniques. This has the potential to help us design new drugs and developing new ways of treating diseases.
Dr Hal Drakesmith tells us how his work on iron availability can help us fight infections. Iron plays essential biochemical roles in oxygen binding, ATP synthesis and DNA metabolism. It also influences infection outcomes, since pathogens can resist the immune system when iron availability is high, leading to rapid infection. The level of iron available in different tissues is controlled by the small peptide hormone hepcidin. Dr Hal Drakesmith is investigating how hepcidin is modulated during infection to identify new ways of combating infectious diseases such as HIV, malaria and Hepatitis C. Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/