Welcome to the Maizels Lab !
We are a multidisciplinary group of immunologists, parasitologists and molecular biologists who aim to understand the molecular basis for parasites evading the sophisticated mammalian immune system. We study the most complex organisms to invade the human body - multicellular helminths - including some which cause widespread tropical diseases and which display fascinating biological properties.
We aim to integrate detailed studies at the level of individual parasite molecules, with system immunology which measures responses against not only parasites but bystander antigens such as allergens. Parasite molecules may actively counter host immunity, or act as targets for the immune response, and in either case be potential antigens for new vaccines. Our techniques combine DNA analysis and gene isolation, expression and function of proteins, and immune system biology and lymphocyte culture.
We study nematode parasites because they display remarkable biological properties and are tractable at a molecular and cellular level. For example, the filarial nematode is transmitted by mosquito and infects 120 million people in developing countries. Parasites can live for 5 years or more, acting as successful tissue transplants. If we can analyse how they achieve this feat, we may discover important new pathways to control both parasites and the immune system.
In particular, we are now testing the hypothesis that helminth parasites exploit the body's own safety mechanisms which have evolved to minimise the risk of autoimmunity. For example, regulatory T cells naturally arise to limit autoreactivity, but are also associated with chronic helminth infection. The expansion of regulatory T cell populations may underlie the epidemiological association between infection and reduced levels of allergy.
Past and present Maizels Lab members gathered at the 2017 Hydra Conference - for high-res image click here. : from left to right: Irma Shabussova (Medical University of Vienna), Anna Kildemoes (University of Copenhagen), Stephan Löser (University of Glasgow), Fumi Varyani (University of Edinburgh), Claire Drurey (University of Glasgow), Henry McSorley (University of Edinburgh), Kara Filbey (Malaghan Institute for Medical Research, Wellington NZ), James Hewitson (University of York), Alex Loukas (James Cook University, Cairns, Australia), Danielle Smyth (University of Glasgow), Rick Maizels (University of Glasgow), Judi Allen (University of Manchester), John Grainger (University of Manchester) and Cecilia Fernández (University of the Republic, Montevideo).
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We are in bright, spacious and well-equipped labs in the Wellcome Trust Centre, in the Sir Graeme Davies Building at the University of Glasgow. The group occupies a suite of labs with tissue culture facilities and ancillary areas containing a wide range of molecular biology and cellular immunology equipment. On nearby floors are state-of-the-art flow cytometry and microscopy facilities. Office space is close by the research lab, and every member of the group has dedicated access to their own computer.
As might be expected for a parasite immunology group, we also have facilities to maintain life cycles of the organisms which we study, in particular Heligmosomoides polygyrus and Nippostrongylus brasiliensis
We work closely with many other researchers situated in our building and we are lucky to be surrounded by very talented groups. More information on our building and other lab groups can be found on the Wellcome Centre for Molecular Parasitology website.