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Targeting autoimmune diseases with therapeutic antibodies

Interleukin-1 (IL-1) family cytokines play key roles in the initiation and regulation of innate immunity and inflammation. As such, it is unsurprising that IL-1 family cytokines play critical roles in a host of autoimmune diseases and inflammatory conditions. Autoimmune diseases affect 1 in 20 people in Australia/New Zealand and there are 80 different autoimmune disease that range from mild to debilitating. No curative therapies are available at present and the condition is managed by suppression of the immune system. Selective modulation of the patients’ immune response has the power to transform the patient’s outcome. Ameliorating the debilitating effects of autoimmune disease would assist in supressing damaging inflammation. This project will aim to develop and characterise monoclonal antibodies (including bispecific antibodies) targeting novel IL-1 cytokines and their cellular receptors to treat autoimmune disease. Indeed, the antibody therapeutic market is expected to grow to ~70 therapeutic entities by 2020, worth US$120-130 billion, and many of those on track to enter the market target key cytokines. Bispecific antibodies combine two (or more) recognition element into a single construct and are thus, able to interfere with multiple surface receptors or ligands associated with cancer, proliferation or inflammatory processes. As of 2015, 25 bispecific formats were in clinical trials. Students will learn numerous techniques including antibody immunisation, phage-display, Biacore, X-ray crystallography and multiple bioassays. Given the importance of antibody development in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors, this project would provide an excellent grounding for a future career in drug development.
Essential criteria: 
Minimum entry requirements can be found here:
inflammation, autoimmune disease, cytokine, antibody, X-ray crystallography, biotechnology, Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Biomedicine Discovery Institute (School of Biomedical Sciences) » Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Available options 
Masters by research
Time commitment 
Physical location 
Biomedicine Discovery Institute

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