Elizabeth Norton, Ph.D.
Mucosal surfaces constitute the largest and most important interface between the body and the outside environment. In addition to maintaining normal physiology, the mucosa must prevent entry, infection, and dissemination of dangerous pathogens. The innate and adaptive immune responses play pivotal roles in preventing or limiting infections. An effective vaccine can enhance this mucosal immunity without the risks and sequelae associated with primary infection.
Vaccine adjuvants can facilitate the induction and/or enhancement of protective mucosal immunity to co-administered or co-delivered antigens through their capacity to act as an immunostimulant. Some of the most potent mucosal adjuvants are the bacterially derived ADP-ribosylating enterotoxins including heat-labile toxin from Escherichia coli (LT), its mutants or subunits. This enterotoxin promotes induction of antigen-specific sIgA antibodies and long lasting memory to co-administered antigens when administered mucosally.
My research focus is mucosal immunity and immunologic mechanisms of vaccination. In particular, I am interested in how infection or vaccination can target specific cell populations involved in antigen transport and processing, enhance Th17 cell development and induce IgA production. Two particular areas of interest are mucosal administration and vaccine adjuvants, either of which can optimize protective immune responses at key mucosal surfaces.
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