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In recent years, immunotherapy has shown great promise in clinical medicine. Our research efforts are centered around myeloid cells, mainly Dendritic cells (DCs)-based immunotherapy against retroviruses, viral oncogenesis and neuroinflammation. DCs are the most potent antigen presenting cells and have long been recognized as key regulators of the immune system, linking both stimulatory and inhibitory components of normal immunity. While these myeloid cells are well characterized with respect to primary and secondary immune responses, their unique role in coordinating central and peripheral tolerance is not fully delineated. It is increasingly evident that dendritic cell failure to maintain tolerance can lead to autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. This has been an area of investigation in our lab for last several years utilizing infection model of HTLV-1/HIV-1 and inflammation, EAE/MS.

Research at Jain Lab


Initial contact of immature dendritic cells (DCs) (Watch Video) and LPS-matured DCs (Watch Video) by rolling or capturing with the inflamed spinal cord microvasculature in SJL mice with EAE.

Adhesion of immature DCs (Watch Video) and LPS-matured DCs (Watch Video) to the inflamed spinal cord white matter microvasculature in SJL mice with EAE.

The highly enriched c-type lectins on dendritic cells as potential therapeutic strategy to ameliorate neuroinflammatory diseases

Our seminal contribution lies in bridging two important fields of neuroscience and immunology while strengthening DCs’ presence and functions within the central nervous system. Research conducted over last decades by our research team has identified myeloid-cell specific targets that can help design safer and effective therapies for neurological diseases caused by inflammation or infection. Learn More

Targeting MEF-2: HDACIIa complex as therapeutic strategy for HTLV-1 induced ATLL

HTLV-1 infects almost 20 million people worldwide with the latest described hidden epidemic in Australia - central and northern regions around Alice springs wherein >45% adults from 5 Aboriginal communities were found to be seropositive (The Guardian, April 2018). In the USA, approximately 266,000 individuals are infected with HTLV-1 via infected body fluids involving both horizontal and vertical transmission as with HIV-1. A majority of those infected remain asymptomatic carriers (ACs), while a few develop ATLL or HAM/TSP with no effective treatment or vaccine for either disease state. Adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma (ATLL) is a unique and highly aggressive form of non-Hodgkin’s Lymphpma (NHL). Over the years we have studied host pathogen interactions underlying HTLV-1 pathogenesis and have identified several new avenues to explore. One of which centers around interactions of MEF-2 with HDAC class II on its promoter. Learn More

Pre-clinical testing of a novel immunotherapy for HTLV-induced neurologic disease

HTLV-1-assocoiated myelopathy and tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP) is a debilitating autoimmune disease of the CNS with similarities to Multiple Sclerosis. Despite high frequency of viral-specific T cells, HAM patients have high viral loads due to the exhaustion of anti-viral immune response. In previous studies we showed that PD-1/PD-L1 expression directly corelates with proviral loads in HAM patients. Therefore, we devised a combined immunotherapy to activate neo-antigen specific CTLs while restoring the functions of existing virus-specific CD8 T cells. Learn More

Jain Lab Members

Graduate students: Kiran Kumar Madugula; Derick Hass (visiting student); Dip Patel, MS

Research staff: Raina Bhavsar, MS

Jain Lab News

Julie Joseph, a senior PhD candidate in the Microbiology & Immunology program, training in the laboratory of Pooja Jain, PhD, professor of microbiology and immunology, is a predoctoral fellow of Drexel University’s Interdisciplinary and Translational Research Training Grant in NeuroAIDS, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health. She received a third-place poster award at the 31st Philadelphia Infection & Immunity Forum in December 2022, and a second-place poster award at the HTLV22 Conference in Melbourne, Australia. She is also the recipient of a Drexel University Dean’s Travel Award for Spring 2022 and was a T32 trainee platform presenter during the 26th Annual SNIP Conference in Memphis, Tennessee, in June 2022.

Joseph, Jain, Kiran Madugula, PhD microbiology and immunology ’22, Rashida Ginwala, PhD microbiology and immunology ’18, Zafar Khan, PhD, professor of microbiology and immunology, and Dominic Sales, MS microbiology and immunology ’21, published “Regulation of Human T-cell Leukemia Virus Type 1 Antisense Promoter by Myocyte Enhancer Factor-2C in the Context of Adult T-cell Leukemia and Lymphoma,” which appeared the December 2022 issue of Haematologica.

Tania H. Mulherkar, third-year MD student, Daniel Joseph Gómez, research associate, Grace Sandel, Interdisciplinary Health Sciences MS student, and Pooja Jain, PhD, professor of microbiology and immunology, published “Co-Infection and Cancer: Host–Pathogen Interaction Between Dendritic Cells and HIV-1, HTLV-1, and Other Oncogenic Viruses,” which appeared in the September 2022 issue of Viruses.

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Pooja Jain, PhD

Pooja Jain, PhD
Professor of Microbiology and Immunology; Professor of Neurobiology and Anatomy