Peter Bretscher's main research interests are the basic mechanisms by which the immune response is regulated to achieve self-nonself discrimination and immune class regulation, and how such basic understanding can be translated into effective and non-intrusive interventions in autoimmunity, transplantation, infectious diseases, allergies and cancer. These interests have led to the "Two Signal Model" of lymphocyte activation, a model that proposes that single lymphocytes are inactivated by antigen, but that their activation requires the antigen mediated cooperation of lymphocytes. This model appears to hold for the activation/inactivation of many B and CD8 T cells. The aims of current experimental studies are to assess the applicability of this model to the activation of CD4 T cells and its bearing on whether antigen activates CD4 T cell to become Th1 or Th2 cells. These studies on immune class regulation are cast in a quantitative framework. The insight gained has led us to the development of strategies of vaccination against and treatment of infectious diseases caused by intracellular pathogens best contained by cell-mediated responses. More recently, the Bretscher laboratory has become strongly involved in studying immune responses against cancers, and how they can be modulated to provide protection against cancer.
Biography Updated on 11 January 2009