immuno
  • The Immunopharmacology Research Laboratory uses microbiological, immunological, cellular and molecular analyses to investigate the impact of host–pathogen and microbe-microbe interactions in the induction of immune suppression or inflammation in host tissue microenvironments. We focus on investigating mechanisms that modulate the immunological milieu in different tissue microenvironments particularly in tumors, the female genital tract and the gut. We also develop innovative antimicrobial activity assay platforms for screening natural product extracts. Our goal is to contribute to the current efforts in developing therapeutic and preventive strategies to control infectious diseases and inflammation-related carcinogenesis. The various research projects in our laboratory are funded by the Natural Sciences Research Institute and Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Development Outright Grant program, the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs through the Balik PhD program and the RTI International and USAID through the Science Technology and Innovation for Development (STRIDE) program.

    • Vision

      To be the leader in Immunopharmacology Research in the Philippines.

    • Mission

      To conduct innovative and hypothesis-driven researches in the fields of Microbiology, Cell Biology and Immunology
      To train students and contribute to the pool of Scientists in the Philippines
      To develop health care and agricultural products and practices that will promote the country’s economic growth

  • INVESTIGATORS

    Joyce A. Ibana, Ph.D. (Head)
    Associate Professor 3
    Ph.D. Microbiology and Immunology
    Reproductive Immunology, Host-Pathogen Interactions, Drug Discovery
    Ivan Imperial, M.D.
    Ph.D. Biology Student
    INVESTIGATOR
    Michael Angelo Nicdao
    Ph.D. Biology Student
    INVESTIGATOR
    Fredmore Orosco
    Ph.D. Biology Student
    (Marine Science Institute)
    INVESTIGATOR
    Giann Dellosa
    MS Microbiology Student
    INVESTIGATOR
    Francis Fontanilla
    MS Biology Student
    INVESTIGATOR
    Janina Guarte
    MS Microbiology Student
    INVESTIGATOR
    Troyss Pilapil
    MS Microbiology Student
    (Research Institute for Tropical Medicine)
    Maevel Romero
    MS Microbiology Student
    INVESTIGATOR

    PAST MEMBERS

    Sandra Jelyn Cutay
    MS Microbiology Student
    INVESTIGATOR
    Edjohn Aaron Macauyag
    MS Microbiology Student
    INVESTIGATOR
    Accepted to the MS-PhD in Biotechnology Global Human Resource Development Program (October 2017) Osaka University
    Malem Flores
    MS Microbiology
    PhD Student
    Biomedical Science and Translational Medicine
    Universita’ degli Studi di Brescia
    Ryan John Pascual
    MS Biology Student
    MS Aquaculture student, VLIRUOS scholar
    Faculty of Bioscience Engineering
    Ghent University
    Remo Vittorio Thaddeus Abella
    BS Biology
    MD Student
    University of the Philippines, College of Medicine
    Bernard Dominic Magan
    BS Biology
    Research Assistant
    APAC Bioskills Corporation
    Michael Jonathan Palad
    BS Biology
    MD Student
    Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health
    Glenmarie Angelica Perias
    BS Biology
    MD-PhD student
    University of the Philippines, College of Medicine
    Carl Adrian Roma
    BS Biology
    MD student
    University of the Philippines, College of Medicine
    John Clyde Co Soriano
    BS Biology
    MS-PhD program in Life Science and Technology (October 2017)
    Tokyo Institute of Technology
    Vincent David I. Alejandro Jr.
    B.S. In Information Technology
    Content Editor
    Reed Elsevier

    Student Achievements:

    2015

    Malem Flores
    Most Outstanding MS Student 2015
    Institute of Biology

    Michael Angelo Nicdao
    Third place: Best Research Poster
    42nd Philippine Society for Biochemistry and Molecular
    Biology (PSBMB) Convention
    Manila
    2016

    Sandra Jelyn Cutay
    International Publication Award

    Maevel Romero
    International Publication Award

    Sandra Jelyn Cutay
    Most Outstanding MS Student
    Best MS Thesis
    Institute of Biology

    Ivan Christian Imperial, M.D.
    International Publication Award

    2017

    Michael Angelo Nicdao
    Young Scientist Award
    9th Asian Conference on Lactic Acid Bacteria (9th ACLAB)
    Gwangju, Republic of Korea

    Carl Adrian Roma
    Best Undergraduate Thesis -Institute of Biology
    Leticha Shahani Award in Biology

  • The Immunopharmacology Laboratory operates a Microbiology, Cell Biology, Immunology, and Molecular Biology laboratory in a facility primarily based at the Institute of Biology. We also conduct experiments in our collaborators’ laboratories and core facilities at the College of Science, University of the Philippines, Diliman

    • Microbe-microbe and host-microbe interactions in the gut

      The gut microenvironment harbors commensals and pathogenic microorganisms in a delicate balance. The perturbation of this balance through extended exposure to antibiotics or skewed dietary intake can cause diseases in the gut. We investigate the microbial interactions in the gut that could lead to pathogen exclusion by nutrient competition or metabolic interactions. We also examine the impact of probiotic microorganisms on colonic epithelial cell biology in vitro and inflammation-associated pathologies in vivo. Our goal is to elucidate the molecular and cellular mechanisms by which the growth of beneficial microbes can be harnessed in order to maintain a healthy gut microenvironment.

    • Parallel mechanisms of immune suppression in the female reproductive tract and tumor microenvironment

      The female reproductive tract is a unique immunological microenvironment that has an exquisite mechanism that balances immune tolerance to semi-allogeneic embryo to support conception and immune protective mechanisms to ward off sexually transmitted infections. Central to this balance is the FRT’s cyclical dampening of CD8 cytolytic function during the secretory phase of menstruation and the recovery of cytolytic immune function during the proliferative phase. Interestingly, the tumor microenvironment has been shown to progressively exhibit immune suppression coinciding with cancer metastasis. We investigate mechanisms that induce immune suppression in the female genital tract that are also operant in tumor microenvironments. Our goal is to determine how the natural restoration of immune competence of cytolytic immune cells in the FRT during proliferative phase can be recapitulated in tumor microenvironments.

    • Harnessing microbial biodiversity for drug discovery

      The Philippines is a biodiversity hotspot for marine and terrestrial macro-organisms. We believe that we also have a very rich microbial biodiversity that can be a rich source of novel bioactive compounds. Our group employs cytotoxicity and antimicrobial assays that could test for cancer cell line as well as pathogen selectivity. We also develop cell and molecular biology assays for therapeutic targets in specific cell signaling pathways that are involved in inflammation and carcinogenesis. We collaborate with Molecular Biologists, Chemists and Bioinformaticians to develop an innovative drug discovery platform that minimizes the search space for discovering bioactive compounds.

    • Chlamydia trachomatis’ immune evasive mechanisms and impact on host cell biology

      Our laboratory strongly believes that along with translational research, we should always appreciate the importance of pursuing basic research. Thus, we investigate the host immune and cellular responses to Chlamydia trachomatis infection. C. trachomatis is an obligate intracellular bacterium that infects the columnar epithelial cells of the conjunctiva and the urogenital tract. We are interested in dissecting the mechanisms by which this bacterium can hijack host cell machineries to promote its survival. We are also fascinated by the plethora of immune evasive mechanisms that this bacterium exploits to persist in the human host. We believe that understanding these mechanisms will significantly provide important insights on the complexities of host-pathogen interactions that can be extended to other pathogens that manipulate the human host cell biology.

    Funding

    • 2013-2018: Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Development Outright Grant (OVCRD)
    • 2014-2017: Natural Sciences Research Institute (NSRI)
    • 2014–2018: Emerging Interdisciplinary Research Program (EIDR)
    • 2014-2018: USAID-RTI International – Science, Technology, Research and Innovation for Development program
    • 2015–2017 Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs Balik PhD Program (OVPAA)
    • Albritton, H.L., Kozlowski, P.A., Lillis, R.A., McGowin, C.L., Siren, J.D., Taylor, S.N., Ibana, J.A., Buckner, L.R., Shen, L. and Quayle, A.J., 2017. A novel whole-bacterial enzyme linked-immunosorbant assay to quantify Chlamydia trachomatis specific antibodies reveals distinct differences between systemic and genital compartments. PLoS One, 12(8), p.e0183101.
    • Marquez, C.M.D., Ibana, J.A. and Velarde, M.C., 2017. The female reproduction and senescence nexus. American Journal of Reproductive Immunology, 77(5).
    • Ibana JA. Towards Excellence in Science Research: A UP Research Guidebook, Copyright 2017 University of the Philippines “Chapter 6 : Gaining competency in science research” page 96.
    • Ibana, J., Romero, M. and Michael, A.N., 2017. P-328 Therapeutic Effects of 1-Methyl Tryptophan and Lactobacillus Spp. on AOM/DSS-Induced Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) Mouse Model. Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, 23, pp.S104-S105.
    • Imperial, I.C. and Ibana, J.A., 2016. Addressing the antibiotic resistance problem with probiotics: reducing the risk of its double-edged sword effect. Frontiers in Microbiology, 7.
    • Sherchand, S., Ibana, J.A., Quayle, A.J. and Aiyar, A., 2016. Cell Intrinsic Factors Modulate the Effects of IFNγ on the Development of Chlamydia trachomatis. Journal of Bacteriology & Parasitology, 7(4).
    • Sherchand SP, Ibana JA, Zea AH, Quayle AJ, Aiyar A. The High-Risk Human Papillomavirus E6 Oncogene Exacerbates the Negative Effect of Tryptophan Starvation on the Development of Chlamydia trachomatis. PLoS One. 2016 Sep 22;11(9)
    • Ibana, J.A., Cutay, S.J., Romero, M. and Schust, D.J., 2016. Parallel Expression of Enzyme Inhibitors of CD8T Cell Activity in Tumor Microenvironments and Secretory Endometrium. Reproductive Sciences, 23(3), pp.289-301.