Chemokine Biology Laboratory
Cell migration is vital for virtually all aspects of life, including normal development and normal physiology. It also plays a key role in a range of important pathologies including autoimmune diseases and cancer. Cell movement in both physiological and pathological conditions, is regulated by a range of molecules including members of the chemokine gene superfamily. The chemokines, (the term chemokine is a contraction of the words chemotactic cytokine), are low molecular weight cytokines that function as chemotactic factors. The chemokine gene superfamily presently consists of over 40 members, (several have been cloned and characterized in this laboratory) all of which are chemotactic for various leukocyte subsets in vitro. They therefore play a critical role in the directed movement of leukocytes from the bloodstream into tissues, one of the major requirements for a functional immune system. While the major collective biological activity of these molecules is clearly chemotaxis, considerable data is emerging that various members of the chemokine gene superfamily exert other biological effects, including in the areas of development, angiogenesis, and haematopoiesis and recent evidence suggests an important role for some chemokines and chemokine receptors in tumour growth and metastasis, with stimulatory effects being observed on a range of structural cells such as epithelial cells.
Work in this laboratory is centred around the understanding of the biology of various members of the chemokine gene superfamily, and particular emphasis is placed on their role in resistance to infection, in cancer (solid tumour growth and metastasis), and in autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis.
Students can choose from a number of project areas, (see Current Research Projects) each of which combines state-of-the-art concepts and techniques in Immunology, Virology and Cell Biology. All available Honours and PhD projects are part of ongoing major research efforts in the Chemokine Biology Laboratory. Interested students can discuss Honours and PhD projects in more detail with Professor Shaun McColl.