The Vaccinology group (Cellular Immunology) studies the interaction of vaccines and viruses with cells of the immune system. Dendritic cells are at the forefront of the immune response and we use various dendritic cell models to study their interaction with vaccines, viral vectors and viruses that cause disease. T cells expressing the γδ T cell receptor are the most abundant T cell subset in the blood of most animals, including cattle, sheep, pigs and chickens. We study γδ T cells to understand their role in immune responses.
Our aim is to investigate the effect of vaccines and viruses on the cells of the immune system, mainly dendritic cells and γδ T cells.
We currently have a number of collaborative projects with other world-leading scientific institutions (University of Oxford, Animal and Plant Health Agency, The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, University of Cambridge, Kansas State University, among others).
We specialise in methods such as multi-parameter flow cytometry and cell sorting of bovine immune cells in addition to cytokine release and functional assays. We use these assays, reagents and protocols to investigate the effect of vaccines and viruses on cells of the bovine immune system. Key scientific advances include the identification of γδ T cells as a major regulatory component of the bovine immune system and the identification and characterization of viral peptides (proteins) presented by specific bovine MHC class I molecules (cell receptors).
The bovine immune system is complex and understudied. Specific analogies with humans and mice do not fully represent the biology of the bovine system. We use a number of tools and approaches to study the functions of the various cells of the bovine immune system in the context of viruses and vaccines. Understanding these functions will allow us to manipulate the immune system to design better vaccines. We collaborate with other scientific partners to apply this knowledge, improving vaccination strategies and therefore improving animal health.