Autoimmunity and cancer arise from failures in the body’s immune system. In autoimmunity the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells leading to disease. Conversely, cancer often develops because the immune system fails to do its job in attacking defective cells, allowing the cells to divide and grow.
As part of the adaptive immune system the B lymphocytes play an important role. They secrete different antibodies - proteins that can eliminate infections. The antibodies are normally a good thing in the immune response, but in autoimmunity they attack the individual´s own proteins and contribute to disease. Antibodies can also be used in immunotherapy, for example in the treatment of cancer to enhance the capacity of the immune system to kill tumor cells.
In our research team we want to understand how B lymphocytes and their antibodies contribute to autoimmunity, but also how pathogenic and malignant B cells can be eliminated. We have previously discovered that an innate type of B cell, the marginal zone B cell, is involved in the initiation of autoimmune arthritis and that pathogenic IgG antibodies mediate the joint inflammation. Current research aim at finding ways to improve immunotherapies with monoclonal antibodies, especially against B cells in autoimmunity and in B cell cancers. Our goal is to maximize the interaction of therapeutic monoclonal antibodies with the immune system to kill pathogenic cells. A customized immunotherapy, to better match the individual needs, will increase the chances for patients to be cured.