News & Events
OMRF Funding success
The Otago Medical Research Foundation announced the outcomes of their Annual Grant round this week. The Department of Microbiology and Immunology were successful in receiving funding for the following projects:
Assoc Prof Alex McLellan
Title of Project: The control of tumour metastasis by lymph node macrophages
OMRF Annual Grant, Sponsored by JN Lemon Trust
The first line treatment for most cancers is chemotherapy. An inevitable consequence of chemically-induced tumour cell death is the release of tumour cell fragments (vesicles) into the lymphatics. We have recently found that tumour vesicles bind to a specific receptor on lymph node macrophages and suppress the immune response – potentially allowing tumour escape. Using a novel model of metastatic disease, we will address our hypotheses that tumour vesicles interfere with the host immune response and enhance disease spread (metastasis). This project will assist in the development of intervention strategies to improve clinical outcome for cancer patients.
Prof Greg Cook
Title of Project: Succinate dehydrogenase: a new target for tuberculosis drug discovery
Otago Community Trust Grant
Tuberculosis kills 1.7 million people annually and 10 million new cases of TB are diagnosed per year. Treatment of TB is difficult and new drugs are urgently required to combat increasing drug resistance and tolerance (clinically persistent) cells. The first anti-TB drug, bedaquiline, developed in 40 years was licensed in December 2012. Bedaquiline targets the F1FO ATP synthase, a nanosized ATP-generating motor that is fuelled by the respiratory chain of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. We have identified succinate dehydrogenase (SDH) as a key component of the respiratory chain and propose that SDH represents a potential target for inhibitor design. The goal of this proposal is to identify specific inhibitors of the mycobacterial SDH and test these inhibitors against M. tuberculosis during replicative growth and in non-replicated cells (hypoxic cultures) to validate SDH as a target for TB drug development.
Posted by Liz Owen on 14/06/2013 at 12:00 AM
PC3 Lab officially opened
A function was held yesterday to celebrate the opening of the University's PC3 Lab. Researchers will soon be using the facility for cutting edge research into tuberculosis and other infectious diseases.
Click for further information.
Posted by Liz Owen on 7/06/2013 at 12:00 AM
Professor Andy Mercer and his Virus Research Unit colleagues have been successful in gaining funding in the latest HRC round for their programme 'Exploiting the therapeutic potential of viruses'.
The large complex ‘orf virus’, which is most commonly seen in people who come into contact with infected sheep, causes severe skin lesions that, remarkably, heal without scarring. Prof Mercer and his colleagues have discovered many novel proteins in the virus that may explain this phenomenon. He has been awarded $4,937,329 from the HRC to develop these orf viral proteins into new therapeutics to help treat acute and chronic conditions.
“This somewhat paradoxical but beneficial use of viruses is a new development with potential benefits to a wide range of human conditions, including skin wounds, cancer, inflammatory disorders and viral infection,” says Prof Mercer.
“The success of large DNA viruses such as the orf virus is linked to their expression of an astonishing array of proteins that manipulate responses to infection. Some of these viral proteins are secreted from infected cells and dampen inflammation or increase blood supply to infected tissue, while others work within infected cells to protect the virus from our defences.” (extract from the HRC media release),
Click here to see the Otago Daily Times news report.
Posted by Liz Owen on 7/06/2013 at 12:00 AM
Postgraduate Research Paper Prize
We are proud to announce the winners of the Department's 'Best Research Paper of the Year by a Postgraduate Student 2012'
First place - Rebekah Frampton, for the research paper entitled 'Toxin-Antitoxin Systems of Mycobacterium smegmatis Are Essential for Cell Survival', published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry in February 2012
Runner up - Matt McNeil, for the research paper 'SdhE is a conserved protein required for the flavinylation of succinate dehydrogenase in bacteria', published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry in May 2012
Third place - Sara McKee, for the research paper 'Virus-like particles and alpha-galactosylceramide form a self-adjuvanting composite particle that elicits anti-tumor responses', published in the Journal of Controlled Release in May 2012
The independent selection panel reported that the quality of all the applications received was impressively high.
Posted by Liz Owen on 6/06/2013 at 12:00 AM