Cells of the immune system protect the body against pathogens. If cells in our bodies are infected by viruses, or become cancerous, then killer cells of the immune system identify and destroy the affected cells. Cytotoxic T cells (CTLs) are very precise and efficient killers. They are able to destroy infected or cancerous cells, without destroying healthy cells surrounding them. We aim to uncover the mechanisms controlling secretion from CTL and natural killer (NK) cells. By understanding how this works, we can develop ways to control the 'killer' cells of the immune system. This will allow us to find ways to improve cancer therapies, and ameliorate autoimmune diseases caused when killer cells run amok and attack healthy cells in our bodies.
Our laboratory is interested in understanding the mechanisms that control polarized secretion from cytotoxic T lymphocytes and NK cells. We use cutting-edge imaging, molecular, genetic and biochemical techniques to identify the proteins required for polarized secretion, and to understand the way in which they work.