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SMITS Kaatje


Laboratory of Vaccinology and Mucosal Immunity

Research focus on a better comprehension of different immunodeficiencies in humans. Three different immunodeficiency states are investigated, the immunodeficiency of childhood, the immunodeficiency of patients suffering from tuberculosis, and those associated with congenital immunodeficiencies. This work is at least partially based on the characterization of humoral and cellular immune responses to different infectious agents / or the correponding vaccine antigens. Therefore, we approach different questions of vaccinology with the hope to develop new strategies for better vaccine protection. In addition as the pathogens most often infect humans by the mucosal route, we characterize the immune reponses both within the blood and locally at the site of the infection. As we mostly aimed at the development of clinical immunology, our laboratory comprises medical doctors, scientists, and technicians. 


Immune deficiency of childhood

Knowing the ontogenesis of immune responses during childhood is a key factor for the development of optimal vaccine strategies. We have shown that in contrast to a relative immaturity of the immue system in young children, they are able to mount appropriate cellular immune response to some pathogens/ vaccine antigens like those from Bordetella pertussis. However, depending of the type of vaccine administrated, there is some delay in the maturation of normal Th1-type immune reponses. We now characterize the memory immune reponses to Bordetella pertuusis (see below).         Immune response of children to Bordetella pertussis antigens after infection or vaccination (European Project Child Innovac).  Characterization of the T and B memory immun ereposnes after vaccination with either an acellular or a whole cell vaccine or afetr a vaccine administrated after a natural infection. Afetr development and standardisation of te techniques, cohorts of children aged from 3 to 10 years, and vaccinated with different vaccines, will be included in the study. Other tests will be developped to detect the appearance of specific effector cells after vaccination. These tests will then be transferred to the center who will perform within the project a phase I study of a new vaccine against B. pertussis adminstrated by the nasal route.