B cells are lymphocytes that play a key role in the immune response.
A principal function of B cells is to differentiate into plasma cells that secrete antibodies against exogenous antigens, and into memory B cells that retain the memory of the encounter against future challenges. However, the advent of B cell depletion therapies, originally developed against B cell malignancies, has revolutionised the way we see the role of the B cell. Observations from the clinical use of agents such as Rituximab have resulted in the recognition that B cells have extremely important effector and regulatory roles other than antibody provision. If we use this information to increase our understanding of B cell biology we may well be able to take innovative solutions back into the clinic to complete the translational cycle. The control of B cell development and homeostasis is the result of a very fine balance between production, survival, and proliferation which is impacted by key survival factors. B cells are found in specialized niches that provide such factors. As our appreciation of the multifunctional nature of the B cell grows, so does the requirement for knowledge of factors affecting the proper control and development of the B cell.
The tools at our disposal for investigating biomedical issues are becoming ever more sophisticated, with high throughput sequencing enabling many repertoire studies that were otherwise impossible, high resolution imaging of cellular and subcellular compartments facilitating the visualisation of spatial organisation in unprecedented detail, and a genomics revolution that opens our eyes to new concepts such as cell-cell transfer of miRNA, or protein variation due to transcriptional mutation.
In this conference we will bring together eminent clinicians, biologists, mathematicians, biophysicists to discuss the explosion of paradigm-shifting discoveries in B cell biology and their relevance to healthy immunity.