Jonathan Sprent is an immunologist who studies the formation and activation of T cells, a type of white blood cell that plays a central role in cell-mediated immunity. Jonathan discovered a method for overcoming the rejection of transplanted tissue that tricks the immune system into believing that foreign tissue is a natural part of the body.
During his research, Jonathan focused on studying small cell signalling proteins called cytokines and their role in controlling T-cell responses to foreign tissue. With his colleagues Charles Surh and Onur Boyman, Jonathan combined a cytokine with an antibody to develop a complex that altered the immune system of mice, enabling them to accept transplanted cells as their own.
Their approach has the potential to replace the use of toxic immunosuppressive drugs following organ transplantation. Together with his other significant advances in the field of immunology, Jonathan’s research has provided many of the foundations that underpin our current understanding of how T cells function.