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Prof Mike Ehrenstein
Room 418
Rayne Building
5 University Street
  • Professor of Experimental Rheumatology
  • Inflammation
  • Div of Medicine
  • Faculty of Medical Sciences
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 so far indicate that regulatory T cells are defective in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. We have identified a potential molecular explanation for this defect , which could represent a novel therapeutic target. 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. Partly based on these results, we are developing 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 autoimmune rheumatic disease e.g. rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis and how we can alter this balance in favour of tolerance.
2. The immunological consequences of B cell depletion in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus particularly with regard to immunoregulation. We are now devising a clinical trial to test the importance of the B cell cytokine BAFF in lupus patients who have been treated with rituximab
3. Abnormal signalling in conventional and regulatory T cells.

Academic Background
1994 PhD Doctor of Philosophy – Medicine University College London
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