Members of the Vanderbilt Institute for Infection, Immunology and Inflammation are making extraordinary advances in health and medicine.
VI4 is developing therapies for the treatment of infection, autoimmunity, and cancer. At the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic is the laboratory of VI4 member, Dr. James Crowe.
When our bodies become infected with a microbe, we produce antibodies that specifically bind to the surface of the infecting microbe. These antibodies protect us against infection by helping our immune system to eliminate the pathogen. After we get better, the cells that produce these antibodies remain in our body, providing our immune systems with memory of this specific microbe, thus protecting us from future infections.
The Crowe laboratory has developed ways to identify and isolate these memory cells from people who have been infected with various viruses and bacteria. They use these cells to mass produce the protective antibodies, which can then be used to treat other people who are infected with the same pathogen. This effective strategy has resulted in treatments for diseases like Ebola and Dengue Fever and is being used to identify antibodies targeting COVID-19 that can be used to prevent this disease.
This is one of the many ways that VI4 researchers are working to discover treatments for infections, autoimmune diseases, and cancer!