Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

Infection, immunity and inflammation

Immunology is the study of the immune system, and our immune system is our first mechanism of defense against invading pathogens and injury or damage.

Infection is one of the major causes of morbidity and mortality. Antibiotic resistance is on the rise and novel anti-parasitic and anti-virals are needed to treat many infections. The immune response to the variety of pathogens is complex and can break down or autoactivate leading to harmful conditions. Inflammation, which is a natural process to remove harmful stimuli, can become deregulated and thus lead to a number of chronic inflammatory diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and neurodegeneration.

The MCT researchers involved in infection, immunity and inflammation are studying a variety of the host-pathogen interactions, the inflammatory process and specific responses of the immune system.

Dr. Dermot Cox has a specific focus on bacterial interactions with platelets.

Dr. Marian Brennan's group use chemoinformatics and computer modelling to design new therapeutics. This involves identifying specific protein targets important in pathogenesis, analysing their 3D structures and modeling interactions with small molecules. Dr. Brennan’s group are focused on developing treatments for S. aureus infection, malaria and autoimmune disorders. Drs. Brennan and Cox currently have lead compounds progressing into in vivo studies for the treatment of sepsis, arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosis (SLE).

Dr. Steve Kerrigan's group is interested in understanding exactly how sepsis damages the body with a specific focus on developing clinically relevant 3D models of infection. He has a specific interest on platelet and endothelial cell interactions with the offending pathogen. Dr. Kerrigan's research group also investigates molecular interactions in bone infection (osteomyelitis).

Prof. Conor Murphy and Dr Ni Gabhann's work is focussed on characterising the autoimmune disorders, Sjogren's syndrome and SLE.

Dr.Claire McCoy focuses on microRNAs, which are small molecules of nucleic acids that are key modulators of the immune system. Dr. McCoy has a specific interest in the role of these modulators in multiple sclerosis (an auto-immune disease).

The immune system is also under profound control by our body clocks, and dysregulated body clocks lead to a number of inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis, diabetes and neurological disease. Dr. Annie Curtis has a keen interest in unraveling the mechanisms by which the clock in our immune cells regulates the inflammatory response.

Dr. Judith Coppinger's research focuses on the inflammatory signalling pathways in the Cystic Fibrosis airway microenvironment.