The role of autophagy in quiescence of healthy hematopoietic cells
Recent medical advances have generated a doubling in life expectancy in the industrialized world. It is well documented that the elderly immune system is unable to fight off infections and fails to respond optimally to vaccinations, contributing to morbidity in old age. The reasons behind the decline of the immune system are not clear. Our hypothesis is that long-lived immune cells have developed a strict regime of waste disposal, called autophagy, that becomes less efficient with age. Autophagy removes obsolete organelles and proteins, preventing, cellular damage or death. We aim to identify cellular pathways that control longevity, which is a central goal in stem cell and cancer biology. We aim to develop novel drugs that rejuvenate stem cells and other long-lived cells such as memory cells via autophagy.