Rachael Jackman, PhD
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Exposure to alloantigens as a result of transfusion, transplant, or pregnancy can result in an immune response to these foreign antigens. This alloimmunization can cause harm, limiting the ability of the recipient to tolerate future transfusions or other transplants of solid organs or stem cells. Our work is focused on the response to allogeneic MHC exposure resulting from transfusion and pregnancy, how this response is regulated, consequences for alloimmunized individuals, and how it can be prevented and/or manipulated to induce tolerance.
One way we are approaching this is through pathogen reduction. We have found that UV-light-based pathogen reduction technologies, designed to reduce the risk of transfusion-transmission of infectious disease, have an added benefit of protecting against alloimmunization. In addition to blocking alloimmunization, transfusion with pathogen reduced blood appears to down-modulate immune responses to future allogeneic exposures. We are now working to uncover the mechanisms regulating this protective effect, with the long-term goal of manipulating this response to protect recipients of blood transfusions and transplants.