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.