Committed to Research

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We are involved in a number of basic and clinical based research projects relating to musculoskeletal disorders including:

Basic science research

The laboratory has developed an innovative strategy to treat auto-immune diseases by the use of peptides able to inhibit T-cell responses. So far, we have identified two lead compounds that inhibit inflammation in animal models and which show promise for human usage. The first compound is a linear peptide that has been used overseas to treat auto-immune skin conditions in humans including atopic dermatitis and psoriasis. The second is a cyclic peptide with similar function to the linear peptide but having the added advantage of being able to be given orally. We have shown that these peptides can inhibit diseases such as adjuvant-induced arthritis in animals, experimental allergic encephalomyelitis, contact dermatitis and asthma. Current strategies are aimed at further developing these new compounds for human usage and examining new approaches to drug delivery. 

Current projects involve examining:

  1. function-structure relationships of the T-cell antigen receptor. A molecular dissection of how antigen recognition leads to signal transduction
  2. the development of new peptides as therapeutic agents for the treatment of anti-inflammatory diseases
  3. gene therapy using peptides as retroviral gene products
  4. delivery of anti-arthritic drugs using targeted nanoparticles

Clinical research

The department of Rheumatology in collaboration with the Nuclear Medicine department, Westmead are investigating new imaging techniques for the detection and monitoring of low grade inflammation in arthritic joints.  We have noted that the radiotracer 99mTc-Glucosamine was well tolerated by all patients with no adverse events. 99mTc-Glucosamine imaging can detect spinal inflammation in AS. With respect to RA, 99mTc-Glucosamine is a viable option to 99mTc-methylene diphosponate (MDP) nuclear bone scans for imaging inflamed joints showing a significant correlation between clinical evaluation of patients with RA and scan results.

Clinical trials

A number of clinical trials are currently in progress.

For more information on the studies available and patient participation eligibility please call Annemarie Saliba on (02) 8890 8099.

The current study by Celgene is evaluating a new compound Apremilast for the treatment of psoriatic arthritis.


 

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