Monday, 13 February 2017

Seed funding will enable research to develop a miniature immune system in a micro particle

Dr Sarah Jones
Dr Sarah Jones has received a grant from the Rebecca L Cooper Medical Research Foundation, providing $25,000 seed funding to create an immune system in a micro particle in collaboration with Associate Professor John Forsythe at Monash Engineering.

“Excitement in medical research peaks when old problems of biology can be solved by modern techniques,” said Dr Jones, postdoctoral research fellow in the Lupus and Arthritis Research Group, Centre for Inflammatory Diseases.

The re-creation of organs in the lab setting, termed “organoids”, is a key technique that is allowing major advances to be made in medical research.
“We have designed a way to create a miniature immune system organoid, encapsulated in a microparticle, called an Immunosphere,” said Dr Jones.

“Within the Immunosphere we will be able to recapitulate the events that occur to produce antibodies, which are critical for immunity against invading pathogens and which are damaging in the case of autoimmune diseases.”

Dr Jones said the Immunosphere will provide a model system for studying antibody production which, despite its importance for human health, has previously been inherently difficult to study.

The Immunosphere will also be a platform for testing new drugs designed to improve antibody production to achieve better outcomes from vaccination, or to block it for treatment of autoimmune diseases, which are currently common, serious and incurable.

“The potential applications for the Immunosphere system are extremely important and very exciting,” said Dr Jones.

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