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Institute for Research in Biomedicine
Istituto di Ricerca in Biomedicina

Via Vincenzo Vela 6 - CH-6500 Bellinzona
Tel. +41 91 820 0300 - Fax +41 91 820 0302 - info [at] irb [dot] usi [dot] ch

Cellular Immunology

Federica Sallusto, Group Leader

Antonino Cassotta, Greta Durini, Mengyun Hu, Wenjie Jin, Sandra Jovic, Jun Siong Low, Federico Mele, Luana Perlini, Ganesh Phad, Rahel Schmidt, Benedetta Terziroli Beretta-Piccoli , Daniela Vaqueirinho

The focus of our laboratory is the analysis of the immune response in humans using novel high throughput cell-based assays complemented with powerful analytical technologies, such as next generation sequencing, single cell transcriptomics, metabolomics and proteomics. With our studies, we are defining the signals through which cells of the innate immune system, such as dendritic cells and monocytes, determine the differentiation, proliferation and long-term survival of cells of the adaptive immune system. These studies aim to address fundamental questions related to how the immune system can protect us against different classes of microbial pathogens, such as viruses, or bacteria, and are expected to provide relevant information for the design of new and more effective vaccine strategies. We are also characterizing human T cells that are induced by commensal microbes to define their functional properties and pattern of reactivity in the steady state and in inflammatory conditions. By applying the same experimental approaches, we conduct studies to understand why in patients with chronic or disseminated infections, including children with rare primary immunodeficiencies caused by genetic disorders, the immune system fails to protect the host and how not harmful environmental antigens or self-antigens can cause pathology (allergy and autoimmunity) in some individuals. Recently, we have identified conditions for efficient gene knock in human T cells using the CRISPR/Cas9 system. The system has great potential not only to define physiological mechanisms of T cell activation, differentiation and plasticity, but also to find ways to engineer more effective T cells for immunotherapy.