Cellular and Molecular Immunology Unit

My laboratory is dedicated to human T cell biology studying T cells ex vivo in T cell-mediated human diseases and T cell recognition for vaccine development. We have

been one of the very first laboratories capable of cloning human T cells from peripheral blood and inflammatory infiltrates in tissues (tissue infiltrating lymphocytes).


This has been applied to different human disease models including the cha racterization of the fine specificity (minimal peptide epitopes) in Hepatitis B virus, Sjogren’s Syndrome, celiac disease, and most recently Kawasaki disease. My laboratory pioneered the concept of carbohydrate recognition by T cells by using tumor associated carbohydrate antigens (TACA) for the treatment and prevention of human carcinomas.

Our vaccine is based on our own designer glycopeptides containing the pan-carcinoma TACA Tn. Glycopeptides tailored to bind with high affinity multiple HLA class I alleles (super-types) could become suitable cancer vaccines in a large population. We also optimized the glycopeptides vaccine design in healthy HLA-A2 subjects showing that CD4+ T cell help (Th) is not necessary to generate CD8+ cytotoxic T cells if the antigen binds class I molecules of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) with high affinity. Most recently we addressed the role of T cells in Kawasaki disease, an acute pediatric self-limited vasculitis of the coronary arteries, the most frequent cause of acquired heart disease in children. Our findings support a critical role for regulatory T cells (Treg) in limiting the disease and underline the pathogenic phenotype of circulating effector and central memory T cells that we have succeeded in enumerating from the peripheral blood of patients during the acute and subacute stage of the illness.

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