27 Nov 2015

Photo of the week: 2015 CCS Postgraduate symposium

Ms Sreepurna Malakar, Department of Gastroenterology, presents her poster, 'Naturally Occuring Dietary Salicylates In
Common Australian Foods'. Sree is supervised by Dr Jane Muir, Prof Peter Gibson & Dr Jaci Barrett.
See more:  
 *Note: Google+ has recently changed its photo hosting and we're still getting to grips with it. If you can't view the gallery, please email Julia.Veitch@monash.edu with 'Photo gallery- can't view' in the subject line. Many thanks, Julia

Forthcoming CCS events: Seminars, public events, general notices

Andrew Guy (Burnet)
Central Clinical School has regular seminar series and postgraduate CCS Events calendar presentations. All event notices are maintained on the CCS staff & students can see details of both public and local events (including professional development courses, trade fairs and Graduate Research Student calendars) and deadlines, at the Intranet's Announcements page.

Various departments have their own calendars. See CCS seminar index: www.med.monash.edu.au/cecs/events/seminars.html

What's on for this coming week: 30 Nov - 4 Dec 2015

Mon 30/11/2015 12:30  Psychiatry Professorial Grand Round
Fri 04/12/2015 11:30  Immunology 'Cutting Edge' journal club presentation

In the Future

26 Nov 2015

A new approach to treating women's mental health issues

Prof Jayashri Kulkarni giving CCS's
annual public lecture in 2015.
Compared to men, women are twice as likely to experience depression and four times as likely to experience anxiety, yet their mental health has not always been given precedence. Many factors mean that women experience mental illness differently, so shouldn't gender be considered when developing treatments?

See the article by Lynne Malcolm and Olivia Willis for "All in the Mind" or listen to the podcast of the interview with Prof Jayashri Kulkarni, Dr Emmy Gavrilidis and Dr Rosie Worsley, of Monash Alfred Psychiatry research centre.

Link: ABC Radio National All in the Mind 25 Nov 2015.

Removal of B1b B cells protective against lupus

2015 Mackay group. L-R: Beatriz Garcillan, Aurelie Baldolli, Fabien Vincent, Ellen McAllister, Fabienne Mackay, Angela Nguyen, Pin Shie Quah, Rachel Lim, Florence Lim, Will Figgett
By Dr Jodie Abramovitch

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), commonly known as lupus, is an autoimmune disease with no cure. Monash researchers have been working to understand the immunological causes of lupus in a mouse model so as to better understand the disease in humans. Such groundwork will enable the development of much more effective therapies for the treatment of lupus.

Professor Fabienne Mackay (former head of the Department of Immunology and Pathology), together with the department's Leukocyte Signalling laboratory headed by Associate Professor Margaret Hibbs  have discovered that a certain type of innate B cell (immune cell), known as a B1b B cell, may be critical in the development of lupus.

Two types of mature B cells that are activated by toll-like receptor (TLR) signalling are B1 B cells and marginal zone (MZ) B cells. In the mouse model studied, these cells cause disease by infiltrating various tissues such as the salivary glands and kidneys. When the MZ and B1a B cells were removed from the mice, disease still occurred. When B1b B cells were removed also, mice were protected from all symptoms of lupus. Therefore B cells and CD19 signalling, specifically innate B cells, are very important in the development of lupus and may represent a target for treatment.

Reference: Fairfax KA, Tsantikos E, Figgett WA, Vincent FB, Quah P, LePage M, Hibbs ML, Mackay F. BAFF driven autoimmunity requires CD19 expression. J Autoimmun. 2015 Aug; 62: 1-10

24 Nov 2015

New gene mutation identified in Bernard-Soulier syndrome patient

By Dr Jodie Abramovitch

Bernard-Soulier syndrome (BSS) is a rare condition in which blood does not clot properly leading to increased bleeding. The underlying cause of this condition is due to a defect or deficiency in a specific receptor found on platelets (component of blood that aids blood clot formation) called GPIb-IX-V. This particular receptor controls platelet adhesion, allowing them to ultimately form a clot and thereby prevent excessive bleeding.

Dr Elizabeth Gardiner and A/Prof Robert Andrews
Monash researchers from the Australian Centre of Blood Diseases in the Systems Haematology group, led by Associate Professor Robert Andrews and Dr Elizabeth Gardiner, and collaborators from the Alfred Hospital and the Kolling Institute of Medical Research (Sydney) have identified a new gene mutation in platelet receptor component GPIbβ in a patient with BSS. The patient had a greatly reduced number of platelets in the blood and a clinical history of mild bleeding.

Upon closer analysis of the patient’s platelets, a number of important platelet molecules were found to only be expressed at very low levels or were undetectable. Another molecule that assists with receptor organisation, called CD9, was also found to be reduced.

They discovered that this patient had a previously undescribed genetic mutation in GPIbβ that was interrupting the formation of important platelet receptors. This led to platelets that were unable to clot together properly, resulting in a longer bleeding time.

The link between mutated GPIbβ and reduced CD9 is unclear though has been previously reported in other BSS patients. As such, CD9 may be a new marker to help definitively diagnose BSS patients.

Reference: Qiao J, Davis AK, Morel-Kopp MC, Ward CM, Gardiner EE, Andrews R. Low levels of CD9 coincidental with a novel nonsense mutation in glycoprotein Ibβ in a patient with Bernard-Soulier syndrome Ann Hematol. 2015; 94(12): 2069-71
doi: 10.1007/s00277-015-2473-1

23 Nov 2015

Peanut allergy vaccine receives commercial funding boost

The AIRMed Allergy research group.
L-R Back row: Dr Jade Jaffar, Ms Jodie Abramovitch,
Dr Sara Prickett, Professor Robyn O'Hehir
L-R Front row: Ms Neeru Varese, Ms Kirsten Deckert,
E/Professor Jennifer Rolland, Ms Anita Hazard, Ms Tracy Phan
The effort to develop a vaccine that could change the lives of sufferers of peanut allergy has taken another step forward with the announcement of $4.85 million of further funding to support the Melbourne-based research.

The Director and Head of the Allergy, Immunology and Respiratory Medicine department in The Alfred and Monash University, Prof Robyn O'Hehir said peanut allergy is a rapidly growing problem in Australia and around the world.

This new investment from the Brandon Capital managed Medical Research Commercialisation Fund, together with the support of an additional $1.44M National Health and Medical Research Council grant (announced in November), will ensure Prof O'Hehir and her team at The Alfred and Monash University can continue the research effort that she began close to 15 years ago.
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