Monday, 29 August 2016

Immune cells interacting inside blood vessels of the glomerulus

Watch video HERE.

Scientists from the School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health (SCS), Monash University have discovered that two types of immune cells inside blood vessels work together to cause inflammatory kidney disease, paving the way for future targeted treatments.  Using highly advanced microscopy techniques, the research team visualised monocytes and neutrophils in real time and saw the cells frequently interacting with each other in healthy glomeruli.


Lead researcher Dr Michaela Finsterbusch from the Centre for Inflammatory Diseases said that during inflammation, the duration of the interactions was prolonged and was associated with a higher degree of disease-causing neutrophil activation.

Read full story HERE.

Immune cell discovery could lead to better treatments for kidney disease

Monocyte (green) and neutrophil (red)
interacting inside a blood vessel 

in the glomerulus.
Monash University researchers have discovered that two types of immune cells inside blood vessels work together to cause inflammatory kidney disease, paving the way for future targeted treatments.

The discovery, published last week in the prestigious journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA), has shown for the first time that different types of immune cells within the blood vessels interact and send instructions to cause damage to the kidney. 
Dr Michaela Finsterbusch


Scientists from the School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health (SCS) examined different immune cells (known as neutrophils and monocytes) in glomerulonephritis, a disease characterised by inflammation of the glomeruli. 

“Glomeruli are structures in the kidney important for filtering blood and
producing urine,” said lead researcher Dr Michaela Finsterbusch from the Centre for Inflammatory Diseases.

“While previous studies showed neutrophils can be responsible for causing glomerulonephritis, we’ve now discovered that another cell type, monocytes, also contribute to the disease.”

“Monocytes do this by communicating with and instructing the neutrophils—under the microscope we can see the cells actually physically interacting in the small blood vessels of the glomerulus,” said Dr Finsterbusch.

Using highly advanced microscopy techniques, the research team visualised monocytes and neutrophils in real time and saw the cells frequently interacting with each other in healthy glomeruli.

Dr Finsterbusch said that during inflammation, the duration of the interactions was prolonged and was associated with a higher degree of disease-causing neutrophil activation.

“Typically, immune cells promote inflammation after leaving the bloodstream,” said study co-author and Head of the Leukocyte Trafficking Group, Professor Michael Hickey.

“So discovering that interactions between immune cells within the blood stream are critical for inducing injury and inflammation is really quite unusual.”
Understanding how these immune cells interact and cause disease is the next step towards developing improved treatments for patients.

“If we could control the behaviour of the monocytes, we may be able to stop them patrolling and instructing the neutrophils to cause damage, thereby dampening inflammation,” said Monash Health nephrologist and physician-scientist Professor Richard Kitching, a co-author on the study.

Currently, most available therapies for inflammatory diseases are general anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive drugs that have undesirable side effects including increased infections, weight gain, hypertension, diabetes, cataracts and osteoporosis.


“This basic scientific discovery may lead to more targeted drugs without the unacceptable side effects both in the immune system and metabolically.”

Watch video of interacting immune cells here.

Cell Therapies Platform and Miltenyi Biotec Cell Therapy Centre of Excellence launched at MHTP

Professor Graham Jenkin
A Cell Therapies Platform, incorporating the international biotechnology company’s Miltenyi Biotec Cell Therapy Centre of Excellence was officially launched at the Monash Health Translation Precinct (MHTP) last week.

"Specifically designed to underpin clinical translation of cell therapies and regenerative medicine, the establishment of the Cell Therapies Platform is a major new initiative within the precinct," said Professor Graham Jenkin of Monash University’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Deputy Director of The Ritchie Centre, Hudson Institute of Medical Research.

"We've built this Platform in response to the under-supply of affordable cleanroom facilities in Victoria for clinical translation of our research, particularly for the manufacture of biologicals."  

The facility will host a Biospherix Xivo GMP cell isolator, a state of the art, MACSQuant® Tyto™ GMP Cell Sorter and a multipurpose GenSim, Bioscaffolder/Bioprinter with stem cell bioprinting capability.

"The Cell Therapies Platform will play a vital role in accelerating translational research leading to the development of new treatments for diseases such as Bronchopulmonary dysplasia of the premature newborn, cerebral palsy, cancer, and tissue replacement with biomimetic materials.

Professor Jenkin said the Platform offers an integrated, fully contained Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) environment that is a flexible, cost-effective alternative to conventional cleanroom facilities. 

"This will become a core facility of the Victorian Consortium for Cell-based Therapies and will underpin pre-clinical and early phase clinical manufacture of tissues and cells for small to medium scale clinical trials and therapies," said Professor Jenkin.

Miltenyi Biotec, the manufacturer of the GMP Gradde cell sorter, has granted prestigious Early Adopter Program status to the Cell Therapies Platform for installation and support of the Miltenyi cell sorter and will establish a Miltenyi Biotec Cell Therapy Centre of Excellence within the MHTP to assist and support translation of potential cell therapies to clinical trials.  

The establishment of the Cell Therapies Platform has been made possible by the generous support of Therapeutic Innovations Australia, through the Translating Health Discovery Program of the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy Program, The Ian Potter Foundation and Miltenyi Biotec.



The Ritchie Centre’s 2016 Colloquium and Public Forum: cell therapy and translational research

Professor Bill Sievert
Innovations in stem cell and regenerative medicine research and women’s and children’s health was the focus of this year's Ritchie Centre Colloquium and Public Forum last week at the Monash Health Translation Precinct (MHTP).

Stem cells and regenerative medicine have been identified by the National Institutes of Health in the USA as the next pillar in modern medicine, and according to a recent Academy of Science ‘Think Tank’, stem cell science is poised to revolutionise the field of medicine. The Asia-Pacific stem cell market alone is projected to increase to $US18.7 billion by 2018, from $US7.10 billion in 2014.

“The Ritchie Centre (Monash University and Hudson Institute of Medical Research) is a leading centre for stem cell and regenerative medicine research and clinical translation in Australia,” said Colloquium organiser
Professor Graham Jenkin from Monash University’s  Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Deputy Director of The Ritchie Centre.

The Ritchie Centre hosts the annual Colloquium and Public Forum to inform and educate the general public and scientific community on women’s and children’s health issues.

“This year’s forum explored stem cell treatments and trials as well as the regulatory environment in which clinicians currently operate in this rapidly growing area,” said Professor Stuart Hooper, Director of The Ritchie Centre.

Keynote invited speakers at the event included Professor John Rasko, Associate Professor Jerry Chan, Professor David Gardner, and Professor William Sievert.

An Australian pioneer in the application of adult stem cells and genetic therapy, Professor Rasko delivered the plenary lecture on progress in gene therapy for genetic diseases, including evidence of improved outcomes in haemophilia B, immune deficiencies, haemoglobinopathies, immunotherapies and blindness. He also participated in this year’s Public Forum.

Clinician scientist Associate Professor Chan from Duke-NUS Medical School presented his research on deriving novel biomarkers for endometriosis.

Endometriosis is an estrogen dependent disease affecting 6-10% of women (up to half of infertile women), and is associated with both pain and infertility,” said Associate Professor Chan.

“Current biomarkers for this disease have limited clinical utility and novel biomarkers reflecting disease pathophysiology are needed.”

Associate Professor Chan said that a biobank repository of serum, peritoneal fluid, eutopic and ectopic endometrial tissues has been set up at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital to facilitate their biomarker discovery program.

This year’s Public Forum was chaired by Dr Susan Hawes, a researcher and policy advisor on science and innovation policy for the Australian Government, and who also manages programs to support the Australian medical technologies and bio-pharmaceutical sector.

The topic, ‘Stem Cell Therapies: Where are we now, and where are we heading’ gave members of the public an opportunity to hear about and discuss cutting edge developments in stem cell therapies. 

With a panel of experts including Professor Euan Wallace, Professor John Rasko, and Professor Iona Novak, Head of Research for the Cerebral Palsy Alliance, the forum explored topics including current and potential stem cell treatments and trials as well as the regulatory environment in which clinicians currently operate in this growing, but sometimes controversial area.


Leading Ritchie Centre researchers also presented their ground-breaking research during the Colloquium on topics including clinical applications of stem cells and biomatrices, fertility and infertility and the use of stem cells in women’s and paediatric health.

“Our scientists are pioneering a number of Phase I and Phase II clinical trials, including using mesenchymal stem cells in paediatrics, neurosurgery, multiple sclerosis and liver fibrosis,” said Professor Jenkin, who is also Research Group Head, Cell Therapy and Regenerative Medicine at the Ritchie Centre.



R U OK? Day 8 September

Please register HERE.

Women in STEM & Entrepreneurship (WISE) Programme - CALL FOR EXPRESSIONS OF INTEREST (EOI)

The Women in STEM & Entrepreneurship (WISE) programme is part of the National Innovation and Science Agenda and will be administered by the Department of Industry, Innovation & Science. The WISE programme provides funding for activities and projects that help girls and women to explore their interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics). Applications close 5pm, 6 October 2016.  Monash is permitted to submit only ONE application. MRO will hold an EOI process to select one project to proceed to Full Proposal.

Australia-India Strategic Research Fund Early- to Mid-Career Researcher Fellowships 2016-2017

The Australian Academy of Science (AAS) invites Australian early- and mid-career researchers to apply for the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund (AISRF) Early- to Mid-Career Researcher (EMCR) Fellowships 2016-2017. The EMCR Fellowships provide support (up to AUD 40,500) for Australian researchers to travel to India (between 1 Jan 2017 and 30 June 2017) and work with leading researchers at major Indian science and technology organisations for a period of between 3 and 9 months. Applications are now open and close 9am Monday 31 October 2016.