Institute of Immunity and Transplantation


NK T-cell lymphoma


New study to investigate Treg fitness to predict disease activity in juvenile idiopathic arthritis

23 July 2020

Dr Anne Pesenacker is to receive £99,716 in NIHR UCLH Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) funding to investigate regulatory T cell (Treg) fitness to measure, predict and understand disease activity in juvenile idiopathic arthritis.

Dr Anne Pesenacker

Regulatory T cells (Tregs) normally police the immune system and stop the body’s own immune cells attacking its tissues. When Tregs are not effective, autoimmune diseases, such as juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), can arise. 

By measuring changes in Treg fitness with a novel Treg gene signature, Dr Pesenacker alongside Professor Lucy Wedderburn (UCL GOS Institute of Child Health and collaborators in the UCL Nanostring Facility (UCL Biosciences), aim to predict and understand pathways involved in JIA disease activity. 

To address this overall hypothesis, the study will focus on two key questions: Does our Treg gene signature assay measure and predict disease activity in JIA? And which pathways determine active disease?

The study, due to commence in September 2020, will check whether a new Treg signature test reflects disease activity in JIA, and whether it can predict disease flare-ups in the future. It will look at how Treg fitness is altered in cells from the inflamed joint using Treg signature and phenotyping to highlight specific pathways altered in active JIA. 

If successful, the novel Treg signature assay may be able to guide patient-specific treatment decisions and identify patients at risk of flares versus those in remission. Understanding the mechanisms behind the failure of immune tolerance, might lead to new treatments and ultimately more patients in remission.



  • Dr Anne Pesenacker