Levings Lab

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This week we profile a recent publication in Gastroenterology from Dr. Laura Cook
in the laboratory of Dr. Megan Levings at the BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute.

Can you provide a brief overview of your lab’s current research focus?

Our lab studies a population of white blood cells called regulatory T cells, which help prevent auto-immune and auto-inflammatory diseases. Our goal is to harness the suppressive function of these cells using a cell therapy approach to treat diseases such as Type 1 diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease.

What is the significance of the findings in this publication? 

We found that one type of regulatory T cells known as Type 1 T-regulatory  – or Tr1 – cells have functions outside beyond their expected ability to regulate immune cells. Specifically, Tr1 cells secreted factors which could help promote the health of cells lining the intestinal epithelium. These unique properties of Tr1 cells could make them an ideal cell therapy to treat inflammatory diseases of the gut, such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

What are the next steps for this research? 

We are developing humanized mouse models to test the function of these cells in models of intestinal inflammation. We are also exploring the feasibility of genetically modifying these cells to further enhance their function as a cellular therapy.

This work was funded by:

This work was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Crohn’s and Colitis Canada.

Read the Publication