Research highlights

Combatting long term effects of COVID-19

Professors Patrick Humbert and Marc Kvansakul from LIMS are the first in the world to characterise precisely how COVID-19 attacks lung tissues – an important step in preventing long-term damage in COVID-19 patients.  Using powerful beams of light at the Australian Synchrotron, the researchers were able to produce images of how the SARS-CoV-2 E binds to and hijacks Pals1, a key protein found in human tissue. Read more in Communications Biology.

What do SARS-CoV-2 and the common cold have in common?

Research led by Professor Stephanie Gras and her team at LIMS reveals that catching the common cold might help our immune cells to “see” the SARS-CoV-2 virus before catching it. Exposure to a winter cold may increase our chances of developing an immune response against SARS-CoV-2. This research, published in Immunity, will help scientists better understand how immune cells recognise this new coronavirus and how a response could be manipulated to boost immunity, and potentially explore a new vaccine strategy.

Hope for rheumatoid arthritis treatment

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that can cause severe pain and erode quality of life. Australian scientists from LIMS – including Professor Andrew Hill and Dr Lesley Cheng, in collaboration with Dr Andrew Foers (WEHI and MCRI), are focussing on possible therapeutic approaches through investigating the role of extracellular vesicles. Understanding how extracellular vesicles and their contents contribute to molecular processes in rheumatoid arthritis may improve treatment options. The researchers profiled miRNA within extracellular vesicles from the joints of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, revealing pathways that contribute to joint destruction. Their findings, published in International Journal of Molecular Sciences, uncover promising therapeutic approaches for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.

Fight against Sepsis

Sepsis or blood poisoning is a very serious disease without any cure. It causes almost 11 million deaths annually worldwide. There have been more than 100 clinical trials in the last 25 years without any success, mainly due to lack of understanding of the molecular basis of this disease. Using the new age gene editing technology (CRISPR), a team from LIMS lead by Dr Christina Nedeva and Associate Professor Hamsa Puthalakath identified and characterised the function of the receptor (TREML4) responsible for immune cell death during sepsis. Genetic ablation of this receptor leads to almost absolute protection from sepsis, sepsis-induced pneumonia and blood-born infection with Candida in cell based and in-vivo experiments. The research team identified the human equivalents of this receptor and work is underway to develop therapeutic antibodies against this receptor. Their findings were published in Nature Immonology.