The macrophage is a key cell in AIDS pathogenesis, and HIV has developed a number of “stealth” mechanisms to circumvent their innate antiviral defences, only some of which are understood. In order to elucidate these mechanisms, we have developed stem cell-based technologies, which enable us to test biological hypotheses in ways that have not been possible before. We have identified a novel endocytic pathway in macrophages that is absolutely required for HIV infection, and are investigating its detailed molecular machinery. We are also probing the subsequent steps of the life cycle, in which virus and host cell factors engage in a struggle for dominance.
The stem cell research in our lab is supervised by Dr Sally Cowley, who heads the James Martin Stem Cell Facility (see dedicated page). We use human induced Pluripotent Stem Cell (iPS) technology to investigate the biology of macrophages and their brain-resident cousins, microglia, in health and disease, and their role in neurodegenerative conditions, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease.
For an introductory video and details of our online and practical workshop: Modelling Inflammation with iPS-Macrophages and Microglia, click here