Francisco Javier Quintana, PhD
Associate Scientist, Brigham and Women's Hospital
Professor of Neurology, Harvard University
Associate Member, Broad Institute
francisco quintna portrait
Regulation of CNS inflammation

The Quintana Lab combines advanced genomic and proteomic tools with innovative experimental models (e.g. zebrafish and humanized mice) to study the regulation of the immune response in the central nervous system, with a focus on the following areas :

Regulation of CNS local immunity. Astrocytes and microglia control CNS inflammation and neurodegeneration in multiple sclerosis (MS) and other disorders. We  developed new human, mouse and zebrafish experimental models to study astrocytes and microglia and identify potential targets for therapeutic intervention. These studies identified a new gut/brain axis by which commensal metabolites control CNS resident cells.  This gut/brain axis is also relevant for the control of immunity against brain tumors and Zika virus. These studies guided the development of synthetic probiotics and compounds that are currently being evaluated as new therapeutic agents.

Regulation of the adaptive immune response. Dysregulated T cells drive MS pathogenesis. Using genomic and proteomic data we identified molecular pathways that control T cells and identified potential targets for therapeutic intervention.  Based on these findings we developed nanoparticles to arrest T-cell autoimmunity, which are being developed as new therapies for MS and other autoimmune diseases.

Role of environmental factors in MS. Complex interactions between genes and the environment control MS onset and development, but our understanding of gene-environment interactions in MS is limited. To address this point we developed novel zebrafish models, which identified melatonin, the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) and the unfolded protein response as important regulators of CNS inflammation.