Melbourne - Monash partnership wins major research award

December 15 / 172

Celebrating the GSK Award for Research Excellence
Celebrating the GSK Award for Research Excellence

A research partnership between the University of Melbourne and Monash University has won the GSK Award for Research Excellence to continue ground-breaking work on how the immune system identifies and fights disease.

The successful team, led by Professors James McCluskey and Jamie Rossjohn won $80,000 at the Research Australia Annual Awards, held on November 17.

The research could assist the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease, peptic ulcers, tuberculosis and lead to better vaccines. 

Professors McCluskey and Rossjohn have uncovered insights into how the immune system recognises pathogens (harmful germs) such as salmonella and tuberculosis. 

Professor McCluskey explains their recent breakthrough shows how the immune system uses the building blocks in Vitamin B2 production to recognise bacteria.

"Bacteria, not humans, manufacture vitamins, which is why we rely on our diet to provide vitamins. We have learnt that the manufacture of vitamin B2 or riboflavin, plays an extremely important and protective role in alerting the immune system to foreign bacteria," he says. 

"This work is but the tip of the iceberg in understanding the role of certain cells in the immune system.

"It's a great example of curiosity-led science and could lead to new ways of diagnosing and treating inflammatory bowel disease, peptic ulcers and even tuberculosis - it could also lead to novel protective vaccines."

Professor Jamie Rossjohn says winning the GSK Award for Research Excellence will help both teams nurture new talent in their laboratories and play an important role in publicising their long-term work.

"Winning the GSK Award for Research Excellence places our work in the public eye. It's early days, but the public can rest assured our teams are working extremely hard to see where this discovery will take us. The best fundamental science will lead to the best innovative therapeutics," he says.

Image: Amanda Gillot

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