Humanized Mice as a Translational Research Tool
One of the goals of basic science research is to take our discoveries at the bench and transition these findings into clinical therapeutic applications. For patients with mucosal immunopatholgies resulting from primary immunodeficiencies or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), increased activation of particular T cell subsets and/or dysfunctional regulatory cells is associated with intestinal inflammation and disease pathogenesis. Several studies in mice show that regulatory T cells are critical to maintain intestinal immune homeostasis, and defects in the number and/or function of these regulatory T cells is sufficient to promote intestinal inflammation. However, a critical barrier to understanding the function of human regulatory T cells in the intestinal mucosa is the inability to study these cells within the appropriate context in vivo. Since our lab is interested in mechanisms regulating immune homeostasis in the intestinal mucosa, we developed novel mouse strains that permit us to study the role of human immune cells in mice. This novel approach is laying a foundation for these models to become important pre-clinical tools that will allow development and testing of novel therapeutic strategies that promote human immune homeostasis.