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Elucidating the basic principles that govern immune tolerance and the development of autoimmunity 

Goals and Approach

The immune system performs the complicated task of protecting the host against an infinite array of pathogens while at the same time, actively controlling or avoiding responses that might harm the host. The Autoimmunity team at the Allen Institute for Immunology is focused on understanding the basic principles that govern immune tolerance and the development of autoimmunity. They are utilizing the full spectrum of -omics tools to understand the molecular pathways and mechanisms responsible for the development and progression through immune-driven pathology. Their team consists of technologists, wet- and dry-bench scientists, computational biologists, cloud computing specialists and collaborators working together to understand disease pathogenesis.   

Pre RA Umap

Research details

Through the study of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and focusing on the earliest phases of disease, the Autoimmunity team is working to understand how autoimmunity develops and progresses at the molecular and cellular level. Their hypothesis is that key immunological events in autoimmune pathogenesis occur when patients break immune tolerance, long before clinically recognizable signs of disease appear. Furthermore, they believe that the disease’s course could potentially be modified with early intervention to reshape immune tolerance, thereby preventing immune-mediated destruction of tissues. This team is using single cell multi-omic approaches to study the complexity of the immune response and identify mechanisms regulating autoimmune pathogenesis. Through the study of samples from untreated individuals, patients successfully treated with immunomodulatory drugs or treatment failures, healthy control subjects, and patients with specific genetic diseases, they hope to gain translational insights into approaches that modify tolerance and guide therapeutic intervention. 

Science Programs at Allen Institute