Researcher: Dr John Lee
Investigating the beneficial effects of complement C3aR on immune cell glucose metabolism in MND.
My research focusses around our immune system and its influence on MND. The immune system in our body acts to protect us from foreign pathogens like bacteria and viruses. However, increased activity of our immune system can have a bad outcome for MND patients. My research examines a group of immune proteins called the complement system, which is our first defence against foreign pathogens. We have shown that blocking the activity of specific components of our immune system can slow disease progression and improve muscle function in mouse models of MND. Our goal as a research group is to examine the beneficial effects of multiple new therapeutic strategies in partnership with big pharmaceutical companies to block activities of multiple components of our immune system.
We currently have one drug named PMX205 going into Phase 1 clinical trials at the end of the year as an outcome from our research.
I hope that our research of testing multiple drugs targeting the immune system for MND can ultimately find a drug that can slow disease progression by effectively protecting motor neurons from dying. In addition to its normal function of protecting the body from foreign pathogens, the complement system is also known to affect energy supply for the immune cells to support motor neurons. We think that this will protect our motor neurons by making the immune cells function in a less toxic manner. We are now furthering our understanding by using mouse models of MND, and MND patient samples to investigate whether the complement system can provide energy and support to immune cells, which helps them to protect against MND.