Allergy, Immunology and Respiratory Medicine research in the Department of Medicine
Director: Professor Robyn O'Hehir
Clinical Director: Professor Trevor Williams
Academic and research interests have developed along several different lines:
- Application of basic cellular immunological and molecular biological techniques to the understanding and management of allergic and respiratory immunological diseases, with emphasis on the development of novel approaches for the down regulation of unwanted or aberrant immune responses. The cellular and molecular basis of specific interactions between T cell antigen receptors, major histocompatibility class II molecules and antigenic peptides are being examined using human CD4 + T cell s reactive with house dust mite allergens, grass pollen allergens, and latex allergens.
- Molecular biological research of grass pollen and latex allergens for novel diagnostic and therapeutic reagents. Genes encoding major allergens are being cloned and expressed in bacterial and yeast cells while synthetic peptides base d on their deduced amino acid sequences are used to identify B cell (or IgE binding) epitopes. Such pure and standardised recombinant proteins and synthetic peptides are useful for more accurate diagnosis of allergy. B and T cell epitope information is al so useful in the modification of the allergens so that they are no longer IgE reactive but still possess their T cell activating capacity. Such hypoallergenic variants of allergens will be useful for immunotherapy without the associated risk of systemic allergic reactions.
- Applied clinical research initiatives include novel therapeutic strategies for asthma management, the development of diagnostic tests to confirm aspirin induced asthma and desensitisation strategies for drug allergy.
- Asthma and Allergy; Head: Associate Professor Jo Douglass
- New drug evaluation, including a new leukotriene antagonist. Efficacy of long-acting beta-agonist bronchodilators in chronic use. Evaluation of asthma-inpatient follow up clinics. Evaluation of asthma-educators' course. Comparison of asthma management and outcomes in a hospital-based clinic versus in general practice. Bronchoscopic assessment of asthmatic airway inflammation and the effects on it of anti-asthma medication. Lymphocyte cytokine generation in allergy and asthma. Cytokine detection and quantification in the airways using molecular biology techniques.
- Physiology ; Head: Associate Professor Bruce Thompson
- Equipment evaluation and development. Nitric oxide delivery to, and measurement in, the airways. Airway compliance. Modelling of lung diffusion capacity for oxygen. Hypertonic Saline Challenge for assessment of airway irritability.
- Lung Transplantation ; Head: Professor Greg Snell
- Airway inflammation and scarring in the transplanted lung. Cytomegalovirus detection using quantitative PCR. Limiting factors to exercise post transplantation. Assessment of muscle biochemistry and physiology from muscle biopsies in post transplant patients.
- Cystic Fibrosis ; Head: Professor John Wilson
- New antibiotic regimens. Assessment of Hospital in the Home for C.F. patients. Colony-stimulating factors for pulmonary infection. Therapeutic Hypertonic Saline inhalation. Prediction of natural history from physiological monitoring.
- Sleep Medicine ; Head: Professor Matt Naughton
- Nocturnal hypoxia in C.F. patients. Cardiac failure and sleep apnoea. Sleep patterns in the profoundly blind.