Fighting off bacterial pathogens that invade our own cells

Wednesday, May 26, 2021
Ed Miao, looking at cells in a petri dish

Some infections are a real challenge for our immune system, but others are eliminated handily. Why? That’s what Ed Miao M.D., Ph.D. and his collaborators in immunology, molecular genetics and microbiology want to find out. Miao studies pyroptosis; when a pathogen invades our own immune cells, they can sacrifice themselves to prevent the pathogen from spreading. He not only demonstrated that the phenomenon is real, but that it can even be useful when it works correctly. His goal is to figure out how to harness this ability to develop brand-new vaccines or tamp the process down when it’s happening in normal, non-infected cells, such as in sepsis.