Dr Nick Scott and his team use maths to outsmart deadly infectious diseases and save vulnerable lives.
Our principal aim is to identify unique proteins involved in the development of autoimmune disease and then develop effective, highly specific and potent immune-based (antibody) treatments. This involves firstly identifying unique markers on the surface of the immune cells and then designing drugs or making monoclonal antibodies that recognise these unique markers.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease whereby the body’s immune system attacks the joints. Despite major advances in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, the cause of this disease is not known and many patients still remain unresponsive to even the most modern treatments. There is a critical need for new therapeutics designed to eliminate disease.
We are researching both mouse models of rheumatoid and human immune cells in rheumatoid patients to define the early events leading to the disease. We have isolated inflammatory cells from patients' blood and actively inflamed joints so as to identify proteins that are unique to the activated inflammatory cells.
Two major types of inflammatory T cells called Th1 and the recently discovered Th17, appear to work together to cause destructive inflammation in a number of autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis. Others include inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis and lupus.
We are using a combined proteins and nucleic acid approach - proteomics and genomics - to identify unique molecules on the surface of immune cells. We have discovered a number of major new proteins on these cells which are potential new targets for the elimination of inflammatory cells as well as for the treatment of this disease.
For any general enquiries relating to this project, please contact:
Burnet Principal for Research Strategy; Head, Inflammation, Cancer and Infection