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Prof Mike Ehrenstein
Room 418
Rayne Building
5 University Street
Prof Mike Ehrenstein profile picture
  • Professor of Experimental Rheumatology
  • Inflammation
  • Div of Medicine
  • Faculty of Medical Sciences

Michael Ehrenstein is Professor of Experimental Rheumatology at University College London (UCL) and Honorary Consultant Rheumatologist at University College London Hospitals (1999-). From 1996-1999 he was an MRC Clinician Scientist at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge with Michael Neuberger FRS and Honorary Consultant Rheumatologist at Addenbrooke's Hospital. He obtained his PhD in 1994 at UCL on the topic of autoantibodies in systemic lupus erythematosus. He trained in medicine at the Middlesex Hospital Medical School.

Research Groups
Research Themes
Research Summary

My research group focusses on translational research in patients with autoimmune rheumatic disease. We have been studying regulatory (immune suppressing) T cells in these diseases in an effort to harness/manipulate these lymphocytes to treat patients more effectively. One approach we have been taking is to use novel biologic therapies as a tool to understand and manipulate the aberrant immune responses found in patients with autoimmunity. Over the last few years there has been a re-emphasis on research into the processes of the human immune system. This has been partly due to the increasingly sophisticated tools available to dissect out immunological processes.  

Our results indicate that regulatory T cells are defective in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.  In addition, after anti-TNF therapy we have observed the induction of an "adaptive" regulatory T cell population, which suppresses via different mechanisms to the "natural" regulatory T cells found in healthy individuals. Based on these results, we have developed a biomarker to predict response to anti-TNF therapy, which will enable this treatment to be given to only those patients that will respond. Our long-term goal is to define the cellular and molecular mechanisms that switch off inflammation.

On going projects include:

1. The balance between pro-inflammatory (e.g. Th17) and regulatory T cell subsets in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and how we can alter this balance in favour of tolerance.

2. The effects of anti-TNF therapy on regulatory T cells in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and whether this could be used to develop clinical biomarkers.

3. The immunological consequences of B cell depletion in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus particularly with regard to immunoregulation. We are testing whether the anti-BAFF monoclonal antibody belimumab in combination with rituximab (B cell depletion) is more effective than rituximab alone in a double blind randomised controlled trial which is now fully recruited (https://beatlupus.uk).


Academic Background
1994   Doctor of Philosophy University College London
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