Formal collaboration with Cardiff university

Monash University’s Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) and Cardiff University’s Systems Immunity Research Institute have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that will see the two institutes extend their collaborative activities.

The five year mutual agreement recognises highly productive joint projects already being conducted around inflammation and immunity, and provides a mechanism for enabling additional projects in the areas of research collaboration; exchange of materials, scholars and students; and co-operative seminars and workshops.

Professor Colin Riordan, Vice-Chancellor of Cardiff University, said: “The signing of the MOU celebrates another step forward in what will continue to be a highly successful exchange programme and transfer of knowledge between the two countries for the benefit of all.”

Professor Dylan Jones, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Cardiff University’s College of Biomedical and Life Sciences, said “We are delighted to sign the MoU on behalf of Cardiff University with the Biomedicine Discovery Institute, Monash.”

“Cardiff University already takes part in several productive activities with Monash in the area of biomedical research,” Professor Jones added.

Professor John Carroll, Director of the Monash BDI said: “We are bringing together excellence in molecular and systems level immunity in this partnership, and I know it will lead to many more great discoveries.”

Common research interests

Current high profile projects include several on lymphocyte receptor biology and a joint study that has revealed how HIV-I can evade the immune system.

Commenting on the HIV-I study, Professor Jamie Rossjohn, a Welsh-born academic at the Monash BDI, and joint faculty with the Systems Immunity Research Institute, said: “This was an exciting and unexpected find that was only possible as a result of the close collaborative ties between Monash and Cardiff researchers.”

Commenting on a collaborative project that led to over £2m in funding to explore inflammatory mechanisms responsible for promotion of arthritis and cancer, Cardiff University’s Professor Simon Jones said: “Cardiff and Monash share many common research interests, supporting our ambition to improve understanding of chronic disease progression and patient diagnosis and treatment“.

A long history of highly productive collaboration

Joint research between the institutes has also involved visits of several early career investigators, including a prestigious Arthritis Research UK Travelling Fellowship to Dr Gareth Jones who worked for two years in Australia studying severe inflammatory arthritis. Similarly, Drs Claire Greenhill and Tommy Liu moved from Melbourne to Cardiff to complete post-doctoral studies.

In June 2015, Professors Simon Jones and Valerie O’Donnell, Co-Director of the Systems Immunity Research Institute, visited Monash to initiate the MOU on a Cardiff University International Travel Award.

“Cardiff and Monash have a long history of highly productive collaboration,” Professor O’Donnell said.

“Recognising this with an MOU will be transformational in allowing us to continue our work and attract more faculty and projects to participate in this exciting exchange programme,” she said.

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About the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute

Committed to making the discoveries that will relieve the future burden of disease, the newly established Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute at Monash University brings together more than 120 internationally-renowned research teams. Our researchers are supported by world-class technology and infrastructure, and partner with industry, clinicians and researchers internationally to enhance lives through discovery.

Original article

Understanding how HIV evades the immune system

Monash University and Cardiff University (UK) researchers have come a step further in understanding how the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) evades the immune system.

Published today in Nature Structural and Molecular Biology, the Monash-Cardiff team have made an important finding in understanding how HIV-I can evade the immune system.

They demonstrated, in molecular detail, how mutations within HIV can lead to differing ways in which key immune molecules, termed the Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC), display fragments of the virus and how this results in the HIV remaining “hidden” from the immune system.

Principal author of the study, Dr Julian Vivian, said the team was yet to develop a complete understanding of how HIV outmanoeuvred our immune system.

Original article

Unearthing immune responses to common drugs

Australian researchers are a step closer to understanding immune sensitivities to well-known, and commonly prescribed, medications.

Many drugs are successfully used to treat diseases, but can also have harmful side effects. While it has been known that some drugs can unpredictably impact on the functioning of the immune system, our understanding of this process has been unclear.

The team investigated what drugs might activate a specialised type of immune cell, the MAIT cell (Mucosal associated invariant T cell). They found that some drugs prevented the MAIT cells from detecting infections (their main role in our immune system), while other drugs activated the immune system, which may be undesirable.

The results, published today in Nature Immunology, may lead to a much better understanding of, and an explanation for, immune reactions by some people to certain kinds of drugs. The findings may also offer a way to control the actions of MAIT cells in certain illnesses for more positive patient outcomes.

The multidisciplinary team of researchers are part of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Advanced Molecular Imaging, and stem from Monash University, The University of Melbourne and The University of Queensland. Access to national research infrastructure, including the Australian synchrotron, was instrumental to the success of this Australian research team.

Dr Andrew Keller from Monash University’s Biomedicine Discovery Institute said that T cells are an integral part of the body’s immune system.

“They protect the body by ‘checking’ other cells for signs of infection and activating the immune system when they detect an invader,” he said.

“This arrangement is dependent on both the T cells knowing what they’re looking for, and the other cells in the body giving them useful information.”

PhD student Weijun Xu from The University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience used computer modelling to predict chemical structures, drugs and drug-like molecules that might impact on MAIT cell function. Such small compounds included salicylates, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like diclofenac, and drug metabolites.

University of Melbourne Dr Sidonia Eckle from the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity said the implications point to possible links between known drug hypersensitivities and MAIT cells.

“A greater understanding of the interaction between MAIT cells and other host cells will hopefully allow us to better predict and avoid therapeutics that influence and cause harm,” she said.

“It also offers the tantalising prospect of future therapies that manipulate MAIT cell behaviour, for example, by enhancing or suppressing immune responses to achieve beneficial clinical outcome.”

Image credit : Vanette Tran

Original article

2016 Victoria Prize for Science & Innovation

The Victoria Prize for Science and Innovation recognises the outstanding work of established Victorian scientists and the impact of their research.
Prof Jamie Rossjohn, of Monash University, and Prof James McCluskey, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) at University of Melbourne, last night received the Victoria Prize for Science and Innovation for 15 years of pioneering work in understanding of how T lymphocytes from the immune system recognise harmful microbes.
Their research aims to build better vaccines, diagnosis and treatment of inflammatory bowel disease, peptic ulcers and tuberculosis.

Original article

PM opens Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute and visits Rossjohn Lab

Australia’s capacity to deliver innovative solutions to critical global health problems has been enhanced with the development of Monash University’s Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) which was officially opened today by Prime Minister the Hon. Malcolm Turnbull MP.

Monash University’s President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Margaret Gardner AO, welcomed Prime Minister Turnbull to the launch of the Monash BDI, which brings together a collaborative research effort of great scale that will see more than 120 world-renowned research teams, 700 on site researchers,  clinical partners and industry working together. The Monash BDI will be located at Monash’s Clayton campus where it will form a key part of the innovation precinct delivering crucial economic and social benefits to Victoria and the nation.

Original article