The department is involved with a number of basic and clinical based research projects relating to musculoskeletal disorders. These are outlined below.
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
- Function-structure relationships of the T-cell antigen receptor. A molecular dissection of how antigen recognition leads to signal transduction
- The development of new peptides as therapeutic agents for the treatment of anti-inflammatory diseases
- Gene therapy using peptides as retroviral gene products
- Delivery of anti-arthritic drugs using targeted nanoparticles
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