Organ transplantation is a highly successful strategy for the treatment of end-stage organ failure.
However, the average half-life of an allograft, such as a transplanted heart, remains approximately 10 years due to chronic rejection and treatment-related complications.
The major obstacle to the success of transplantation is the recognition by the recipient immune system of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules on donor tissue. There is therefore a pressing need to understand the mechanisms behind rejection as well as development of effective therapies to establish donor-specific immunological tolerance in transplant recipients.
This talk will focus on the role of exosomes in transplant rejection and on novel strategies to prolong transplant survival.
Dr Smyth is a Senior Lecturer in Immunology at University College London. She studied Immunology at the University of Glasgow. After a brief spell at Yale University, she embarked on a PhD at Edinburgh University studying the mechanisms behind immunological tolerance to milk proteins. She then moved to the MRC National Institute for Medical Research, Mill Hill, London investigating the signalling pathways involved in positive and negative thymic T cell selection. She then worked on endothelial cells and the role anti-apoptotic molecules play, with regards to protecting these cells from immune responses, during transplantation.
Continuing within the transplantation field, she joined King’s College London working with Profs Robert Lechler and Giovanna Lombardi investigating the use of tolerogenic dendritic cells and regulatory T cells, as cellular therapies to induce transplant tolerance. Her current research focuses on the intercellular transfer of molecules between cells of the immune system with specific reference to immune regulation. She investigates the role of exosomes released by regulatory T cells in controlling immune responses with an outlook to using these vesicles as a possible immunotherapy reagent.