Intestinal communication networks: the gut neuro-immune-microbiota axis
We study the cellular, molecular and genetic mechanisms that facilitate communication between cells of the immune system and the intestinal environment - the gut microbes (microbiota), the enteric nervous system and the intestinal epithelium.
We aim to understand how these intercellular communication networks control immunological decision-making processes, manage local and systemic inflammation or facilitate immunological tolerance.
We strive to develop a microbiome-based, personalized therapy for human autoimmune and chronic inflammatory diseases (such as inflammatory bowel diseases), and for boosting cancer therapy.
We combine microscopy, genomics and molecular biology together with a unique gut organ culture system which we have recently developed (Yissachar et al., Cell, 2017). This system preserves the physiologic tissue structure and cellular complexity, yet allows tight experimental control. This advantage facilitates experimentations which cannot be reliably performed in-vivo, and has already led us to discover some unexpected roles for enteric neurons in mediating microbiota-induced effector and regulatory T-cells development.
We utilize this system to investigate gut neuro-immune-microbiota communization in a wide range of healthy and pathological conditions, including neonatal host-microbiota interactions, autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis, chronic inflammation such as inflammatory bowel diseases and cancer.
In addition, we combine principles of systems biology, to understand how cells of the immune system process environmental signals in real-time (Yissachar et al., Molecular Cell, 2013).