University of Dundee

£1.7 million Boost for Research into Inflammatory and Auto-Immune Diseases

13 Mar 2013

Research at the University of Dundee targeting the cause of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases which affect millions of people has been boosted by a grant of almost £1.7 million from the Wellcome Trust.

Professor Sir Philip Cohen has been given a Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator Award to carry out research over the next five years.

His work is aimed at unravelling the workings of a genetic pathway – known as the MyD88 signalling pathway - which operates as part of our innate immune system.

This pathway plays a key role in helping fight off infection by pathogens such as bacteria and viruses by producing what are known as inflammatory mediators. However, the uncontrolled production of these mediators is also a cause of many inflammatory and autoimmune diseases such as asthma, lupus, psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis.

“There is considerable interest in developing drugs to treat these diseases by targeting the protein components of the MyD88 signalling network,” said Professor Cohen, Programme Leader in the Medical Research Council Protein Phosphorylation Unit at the University of Dundee.

“With the support of the Wellcome Trust and the Medical Research Council my laboratory now has all the funding in place that it needs over the next five years to make major inroads into understanding the MyD88 signalling network and to validate drug targets for the treatment of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The next few years therefore promise to be really exciting.”

Professor Cohen has also received a further grant of nearly £76,000 from MRC Technology’s Development Gap Fund to help accelerate work over the next year aimed at validating a novel drug target in the MyD88 system that his laboratory has recently identified.