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William James

HIV-macrophage interactions during infection and neuroinflammation

Tissue macrophages, including the microglia in the brain, act as critical sentinels to defend us against infection. Consequently, pathogens such as HIV have developed ways of circumventing the defensive functions of macrophages in order to establish chronic infection. Moreover, their persistence in macrophages appears to generate chronic inflammatory reactions, that may lead to the dysfunction of neighbouring cells, such as neurons, and result in neurocognitive disorders. In order to dissect the molecular pathways involved in these processes, we have developed human iPS cell-derived tissue models for macrophages, microglia and neurons, and use high-efficiency Cas9-based gene editing methods to investigate the contribution of individual components. We also work extensively with neuroscience collaborators on the neuroinflammatory aspects of Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.