The Mechanics of immunity
The immune system is a vast and complex system whose properties are currently being understood, especially from its functional mechanics perspective. One key example where mechanics plays a significant role in immunity are neutrophils, which are immune cells that control their rolling velocity on blood vessels through a wide range of flow conditions by means of catch bonds. When neutrophils are exposed to high flow these catch bonds bind strongly to surfaces in order to limit their rolling velocity. Conversely, they weaken their binding at low velocities to avoid getting stuck to the vessel walls.
Here, we are collaborating with the school of medicine to study various questions related to the mechanics of the immune response of antibodies. One particular project is the study of the immune complex by means of force spectroscopy with an Atomic Force Microscope and a Surface Plasmon Resonance (SPR) apparatus that we are building. This project could help understand the role of these complexes in diseases such as hemolytic autoimmune anemia. Students in medicine and sciences are encouraged to apply.