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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

Infection and Immunity

Santiago F. González, Group Leader

Joy Bordini, Kevin Ceni, Mauro Di Pilato , Irene Latino, Daniel Molina Romero, Diego Pizzagalli, Alain Pulfer, Tommaso Virgilio

The primary focus of my lab is to study the interface between pathogen and host. The main areas of my research interest include the innate and adaptive immune responses to respiratory pathogens, and the mechanisms by which such viruses and bacteria fight the host immune system. The initial response of the body to infection involves a series of events characterized by the rapid up-regulation and recruitment of effectors molecules and cells, which facilitate the elimination of the pathogen and the restoration of homeostasis. However, this response is not unidirectional. The pathogen has developed complex strategies to initially challenge the immune system of the host but also to resist successfully its counter attack. A better understanding of the virulence mechanism of the pathogen will contribute to the development of new strategies directed to fight the infection. In addition, the initial mechanisms in the host response directed to contain the infection will be studied. The combination of the two previous perspectives will contribute to the better understanding of the immune response to the disease challenges, allowing the design of more effective ways to enhance the host immune response.

We are currently using state-of-the-art imaging techniques such as 2-photon intravital microscopy, and confocal microscopy to address some of the aforementioned questions. These techniques enable the study of the interaction between the pathogen and the host in a completely new dimension, monitoring the cell-to-cell and microbe-to-cell interaction in real time. In addition, we will use some classic imaging techniques, such as electron and scanning microscopy, in order increase the resolution and structural information of the infected tissue or cell.

Biomedical databases are essential to feed research in the era of data-science. To this end, the group provided to the scientific community (paper) the first database of immune cell movements captured by 2-photon intravital microscopy.
Imaging experts from 7 international research groups collaborated to capture and track several types of cells in broad experimental conditions.

2-photon intravital microscopy video capturing the migration of neutrophils in the lymph node