We study how T cell mediated immune tolerance develops in the thymus
T lymphocytes play a central role in the defence of the organism against pathogens (viruses, bacteria, parasites) and tumours. The mechanisms involved in the development of T cells in the thymus necessarily imply the generation of potentially dangerous T cells. To avoid autoimmune pathology, these cells need to be neutralised (by the process of "negative selection") before they leave the thymus. This is the first way the thymus ensures immune-tolerance. The second one involves the generation of so-called "regulatory T cells" which prevent autoimmune pathology and chronic inflammation, protect the foetus from rejection by the mother's immune system, fine-tune immune-responses to pathogens, but unfortunately also inhibit immune responses towards tumours. The group now led by Prof. Joost van Meerwijk studies Treg development in the thymus.