Research Fellows Directory
Dr Armin Deffur
Imperial College London
Our research area lies at the interface of multiple disciplines: (1) clinical infectious diseases (specifically the study of HIV and TB infection), (2) immunology, i.e. the study of how the immune system responds to and copes with infection by HIV and/ or tuberculosis, (3) molecular biology, i.e. the study of how the various parts of human cells (in this case, cells of the immune system) contribute to susceptibility to, or defence against infection, and (4) computational biology, i.e. the use of computers and the development and use of computer programs to better understand complex biological datasets. The synthesis of these disciplines can be termed "systems immunology of HIV and TB infection".
We are undertaking research targeting a group of proteins called GBPs, as we are interested in their contribution to defence against HIV and TB, and their potential contribution to worsening the respective diseases. We are investigating the idea that infection by HIV causes these proteins to become more abundant in macrophages, which are key immune cells defending us against TB. We propose that these proteins, once they become more abundant in the macrophage, cause the cells to die once they ingest TB bacilli, which allows the TB bacilli to infect other cells, instead of being contained inside the macrophage. If true, this could explain why persons who are infected with HIV have a much higher risk to develop active TB disease, compared to persons who are HIV negative.
If our findings support our research hypotheses, this might open avenues for so-called "host-directed therapy", where potential new treatments targeting the immune system, rather then the micro-organsims causing infection, may be developed. Such treatments might lead to better outcomes and fewer side effects, and would not be adversely affected by micro-organisms resistant to standard therapy.
Interests and expertise (Subject groups)