K&J – Trudeau Institute – Worldwide Research Originating from Saranac Lake

082913 - Trudeau Cooper on TourWe’re touring the Trudeau Institute today Let’s take a minute to introduce you to our tour guide.. Her name is Dr Andrea Cooper..  In January 2002, Dr. Cooper arrived at the Trudeau Institute, prior to that she was in Bethesda, Maryland at the National Institutes of Health, prior to that in Colorado at the Mycobacterial Research Labs at Colorado State University where she worked with Dr Ian Orme, who we’ve also interviewed on this program..  In Colorado, she was focused primarily on the protective immune response to Mycobacterium tuberculosis..  And here at Trudeau, her to focus continues to be the investigation of the cellular immune response to Mycobacterium tuberculosis. And Trudeau Institute has had a major influence on her research as well as for so many other scientists.

Tuberculosis, or TB, is an infectious bacterial disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which most commonly affects the lungs. It is transmitted from person to person via droplets from the throat and lungs of people with the active respiratory disease. Two things stand out about TB, first there typically are no initial symptoms until the TB becomes active and two it takes nearly six months to treat most strains of TB..

K&J – 090313 – Touring Trudeau Institute with Dr Andrea Cooper

082913 - Trudeau View

One of the obstacles researchers have faces trying to find faster remedies is that this Mycobacterium TB finds it’s way to the walls of your lung and then instead of acting like a normal infection, it builds this wall around itself that looks like your lung so those nasty white blood cells that would normally come with their antibodies don’t even know there’s been an invasion.. Those antibodies can’t help to fight off the infection if they don’t know there’s a problem and that is one of the traits of the Mycobacterium TB infection..  and then there are even more complications because as you get older, your immune system gets older too..  which is why research into the characteristics of your immune response is so important.. and why there are so many people focused on this worldwide effort for which Trudeau is at the center of it all..

082913 - Trudeau Statue

Trudeau Institute is a consortium member of a  $9 Million Award in research from the National Institute of Health.. Trudeau Institute along with U-Mass and The University of Connecticut is investigating why immune cells in the young respond better than immune cells in the aged after vaccination; these studies suggest strategies for overcoming the poor response to vaccination in the aged. The function of the immune system changes profoundly with age. One of the most clinically important changes is that vaccine efficacy significantly declines in the elderly, leaving them more susceptible to infectious diseases such as influenza and pneumonia. This decline leads to lower overall antibody titers as well as reduced Antibody function, when compared to younger individuals.

A further confounding factor with the potential to impact the primary immune response to vaccination is the fact that aging individuals have an increased incidence of inflammation and chronic inflammatory infection. The core group of investigators  have discovered that aged hosts express an increased frequency of cells capable of producing the inflammatory cytokine IL-17 and that this frequency is further increased by the presence of mycobacterial infection. When you put these two observations together, you begin to that the priming and cognate function of CD4 T cells is influenced by chronic infection and that age of both T cells and host exacerbates this influence.

Dr Cooper and I originally spoke about the first worldwide meeting a (World TB Day) a few years ago.. Essentially, she’s organized an annual consortium of experts in the field. So far the event has been held in Late March or Early April and it’s centered around World TB Day which is an initiative of Dr Cooper and Trudeau Institute. During our discussion, it became evident that Trudeau is working with other institutions to continue to build Saranac Lake into a worldwide hub for research, not only in the field of immunology, but many other fields as well. Needless to say, we’ll be talking more about the gathering of the most knowledgeable minds in the world on the study of immunology, infection, inflammation and more as April 2014 approaches.. 

Visually, the animation of these images has given researchers new opportunities to validate their theories… but these very powerful images aren’t the only tool investigators use at Trudeau… Dr Cooper leads us down into another section of the institute – on the way down, I stopped on a deck built into the side of the lab which, aside from Ampersand Bay, has one of the most spectacular views of Lower Saranac Lake that I can recall.. So I took that in for a few moments imagining all of the experts in their field, including Dr Trudeau, who’ve postulated theory all over the world and chosen to remain in Saranac Lake because of the nature, pardon the pun, of the region..  And then I had to catch up a bit.. I noted that there was always someone nearby to assure the integrity of the facility In this case, they also made sure I found my way back to Dr Cooper  who is now standing in the middle of a room with perhaps more than a million dollars worth of testing equipment… Not too shabby – and again, just one more reason why you can’t get in the front door without a pass. Luckily I had a pass and Dr Cooper is clearly excited about the work they do here…

 

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