News & events

New cell discovery that could stop allergies and deadly anaphylaxis

Thursday, June 20, 2019

A new cell type that could stop allergies before they begin has been discovered by researchers at The Centre for Personalised Immunology.

In Australia, 1 in 5 people suffer from allergic conditions and this finding gives hope to people who live with a range of allergic conditions including asthma, eczema and life-threatening anaphylaxis.

“In allergic individuals, the immune system thinks that harmless particles like peanuts, dust or common allergens are a threat, and then mounts an immune response which manifests itself from mild localised symptoms like a runny nose during hay fever season, to very aggressive systemic inflammation like anaphylaxis.” said lead researcher and PhD scholar Pablo F Canete, in the ANU press release.

The cell discovered in this research prevent immune overactivity by secreting a signal to stop production of the antibody, Immunoglobulin E (IgE). It is already known that this antibody (IgE) is the key trigger of allergic reactions.

Research Collaboration Celebrated at The Festival of Australia

Friday, June 7, 2019

Professor Carola Vinuesa, director of the Centre for Personalised Immunology (CPI) presented the keynote speech at the Festival of Australia, hosted by Renji Hospital in Shanghai.

The Festival of Australia celebrated the signing of an agreement between primary care nurses in Australia and China, to facilitate the primary care of patients in both nations.

As part of the festival, the CPI hosted a two-day research symposium at Renji Hospital in conjunction with the China-Australia Centre for Personalised Immunology (CACPI). The CACPI is part of the strategic alliance between CPI, ANU and Renji Hospital, Shanghai Jiaotong University School and was established in 2016.

Professor Vinuesa and Professor Nan Shen, co-direcotrs of the CACPI, also celebrated the expansion of the CACPI laboratory that now covers two floors of the Renji Hospital. This extension of the current CACPI laboratory will be used by CPI staff and dedicated Chinese staff in ongoing collaborations between the two groups.

Groundbreaking genetic discovery shows why Lupus develops

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Pictured (L-R) Professor Carola Vinuesa, Dr Vicki Athanasopoulos, Dr Simon Jiang

In a world first, researchers from The Australian National University (ANU) have shown previously ignored rare genetic mutations are a major cause of lupus.

The discovery is set to change our understanding of the causes of disease and potentially save lives.

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that has no cure. It targets the body's healthy tissue, causing inflammation, damage and pain.

Until now, the exact cause of the disease has been poorly understood.

That's changed thanks to a genetic breakthrough by ANU researchers Dr Simon Jiang, Dr Vicki Athanasopoulos and Professor Carola Vinuesa.

Dr Jiang has spent six years analysing the genetic instructions locked in DNA which lead to the disease.

Genomic Medicine Now a Reality for Canberrans

Monday, March 18, 2019

Genomics is cutting-edge medicine. Patients who are battling rare or life-threatening diseases can have their genetic make-up analysed in order for personally tailored treatment and medication plans to be developed to manage and treat their conditions.

CCG now meets the rigorous standards required for National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) accreditation, and is built on the capacity of discovery genomics research at John Curtin School of Medical Research.

$10 Million for Research into Precision Medicine

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

The Liberal National Government is investing $10 million in research that will help use a person’s DNA and their environment to help create personalised medicine.

The funding will go to Australian National University (ANU) for the Phenomics Translation Initiative, a two year program to develop new diagnostic and treatment options for people living with chronic and debilitating diseases including lupus, type 1 diabetes and age-related macular degeneration.

It will build on ANU’s internationally recognised capability and infrastructure to fast track our understanding of how our DNA can improve how diseases are diagnosed, treated and possibly cured.

Phenomics research helps us understand how our environment makes us more or less susceptible to a wide range of common diseases, including how individuals react to therapies.

This research will enable therapies and treatments to be tailored to the patient rather than treating the patient generically based on the disease – the treatment is personalised for that patient.

Rare Disease Day 2019: Bridging Health and Social Care

Friday, March 8, 2019

Rare Disease Day is held on the last day of February each year. This year, the CPI joined the worldwide community to raise awareness of rare diseases by holding a public lecture at the John Curtin School of Medical Research.

A rare disease is a life-threatening or chronically debilitating disease or condition which is uncommon in the general population. It is estimated that 6 – 8% of Australians are affected by rare diseases. Worldwide, 6,000 to 8,000 rare diseases have so far been identified. Researchers at the Centre for Personalised immunology, we work on identifying new, rare immune diseases and continue research on diseases already described.

The 7th Annual John Curtin Lecture in Medical Research

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Photo supplied by the NHMRC. 

Since 2010, the award of “John Curtin Lecturer” has been made annually, at the invitation of The Director of The John Curtin School of Medical Research. This year Professor Vinuesa was asked to give the lecture on a topic of her choosing, in recognition of her scientific achievement.

Professor Vinuesa spoke about understanding the causes of human autoimmune diseases and developing more effective treatment.

Autoimmune diseases arise when our immune cells turn against our own tissues and cells, damaging or destroying them. There are over different 80 autoimmune diseases affecting 3-5% of the population, and no cures.

In order to develop better and more effective treatments, it is imperative to understand the molecular and genetic causes of these diseases. Our classical mouse-to-human approaches provided useful insights into the cells and pathways involved in the control of antibody responses. Nevertheless, a block in translation into more effective therapies has remained.

CPI Researchers identify the cause and mechanism of previously unexplained genetic condition

Friday, October 19, 2018

Image: Protein structure of IKK2 with substituted amino acid (red) shown within the activating pocket in the kinase domain.

Researchers at the Centre for Personalised Immunology have discovered the genetic cause and mechanism of a disease resulting in recurrent infections and inflammation. The research was led by Matthew Cook from the Centre for Personalised Immunology and Hirokazu Kanegane from Tokyo Medical and Dental University. Researchers identified two unrelated patients carrying an identical mutation in a gene called IKBKB.

The symptoms affecting these patients are a combination of the immune system being too weak and not mounting a proper response, while in other respects producing an excessive response.

“It is a disease which is characterised by immune deficiency where patients get recurrent infections, especially chest infections, including recurrent pneumonia, but paradoxically patients also suffer inflammatory diseases of the skin, lymph nodes and the spleen,” said Professor Cook.

CHARM: The Future of Personalised Medicine in Chronic Conditions Management

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Today, Professor Matthew Cook gave a presentation at the Canberra Health Annual Research Meeting (CHARM). Professor Cook spoke about the future of personalised medicine in chronic conditions, providing a conceptual framework for this future.

CHARM is the premier conference for the communication and translation of health-related research practice in the ACT. Professor Cook was invited to discuss his research conducted through the Centre for Personalised Immunology. The annual conference explores challenges, opportunities and discoveries in health and medical research in the region. This is an opportunity for showcasing research, networking, collaboration and capacity building for researchers and clinicians in the ACT and beyond.

Dr Matt Field Receives the Frank Fenner Award at the NHMRC Research Excellence Awards

Friday, June 29, 2018

Congratulations to Dr Matt Field who has been awarded the Frank Fenner Early Career Researcher Fellowship by the NHMRC.

As a Senior Research Fellow in Bioinformatics, Dr Field combines his love of both computer science and biology in order to translate research into improving health outcomes. Matt is a bioinformatician who works at the interface of genomics and computing, with expertise in high-throughput bioinformatics pipelines. His research aims to incorporate the latest technologies into the health system and make these technologies available to all Australians.

Matt is a Chief Investigator of the Centre for Personalised Immunology and a Senior Research Fellow in Bioinformatics at the Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine. The fellowship funds Dr Field’s research for a four-year term.

Congratulations Matt!