Targeted deletion of disease-causing T cells

Targeted deletion of disease-causing T cells

Project details

T cells continually balance decisions between activation and tolerance that are critical for effective immunity and for preventing autoimmunity. Antigenic stimulation of naive T cells moves the cells from their homeostatic programme to initiate cell division and changes to their survival and metabolic machineries. 

We have identified that during reprogramming of survival within this transition phase, these cells are vulnerable to cell death and elimination. Based on our findings in murine T cells (Koenen 2013, Nat Comms: Heinzel 2017, Nat Immunol) the goal of this project is to dissect the regulation of survival in human T cells and to establish whether targeted inhibition of activating signalling pathways during TCR-driven reprogramming can be used for the specific deletion of disease-causing T cells to treat autoimmune diseases such as coeliac disease and food allergies. 

About our research group

The Hodgkin lab studies the immune system with the goal of building conceptual computational models that can be used to improve vaccine development and treatments for autoimmunity and cancer. Experimental work to inform this effort focuses on the control of immune cell fates such as death, division and differentiation.  

Typical experiments in the lab use cellular division tracking techniques and flow cytometry to measure the effect of changing conditions such as cytokines, altered genetic makeup or the impact of pharmacological agents on indivual cells and how they vary in a population. We use single cell and bulk RNA sequencing to follow molecular changes corresponding with cell fates.   

In the lab experiment-skilled and computer-skilled researchers work together to extract the maximum value from such data.


Email supervisors


Cheon H 2021. Frontiers in Bioinformatics 1(50). 

Heinzel S 2017 Nat Immunol 18(1): 96-103. 

Heinzel S 2018 Curr Opin Immunol 51: 32-38. 

Marchingo JM 2014 Science 346(6213): 1123-1127. 

Koenen P 2013 Nat Commun 4: 1735.


Susanne Heinzel profile
Immunology division

Professor Phil Hodgkin

Professor Phil Hodgkin
Joint Division Head

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