Mads Hald Andersen
Blegdamsvej 3B, 2200 København N
MHA research has been focusing on the characterization of the natural immune responses in patients with cancer with a special focus on immune regulation. The understanding of regulatory cells is based on the discovery of suppressor cells, which are indispensable to assure peripheral cells and immune homeostasis. Especially, the importance of regulatory T cells (Tregs) for the regulation of immunity, e.g., modulating host responses to tumors or inhibiting the development of autoimmunity, has received much attention. MHA recently discovered self-reactive, pro-inflammatory T cells – defined as anti-regulatory T cells (anti-Tregs) - that target immune-suppressive cells. Hence, regulatory cells are not only cells that suppress immune reactions but are also effector cells that counteract the effect of suppressor cells and support or help immune reactions. The main research focus on MHA is the characterization of such self-reactive T cells that specifically recognize human leukocyte antigen-restricted epitopes derived from proteins that are normally expressed by regulatory immune cells, such as indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO), tryptophan 2,6-dioxygenase (TDO), programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1), and forkhead box P3 (Foxp3). These proteins are highly expressed in professional antigen presenting cells under various physiological conditions such as inflammation and/or stress. Self-reactive T cells recognizing such targets may therefore be activated due to the strong activation signal given by their cognate targets. MHA currently focus on characterization of anti-Tregs, with a special focus on their roles in immune homeostasis and use in clinical applications.