Our RA research
Garvan's research looks at the wide range of immune responses that can occur, and the processes that underpin them. We use the latest technologies to manipulate and analyse the behaviour of immune cells. This includes sophisticated gene manipulation and analysis techniques, and the technology to visualise individual immune cells as they function in the body.
C5a antibody treatment
Garvan researchers developed an antibody that blocks the action of an important molecule (C5a) from guiding inflammatory cells into tissue. This molecule binds to a cell surface receptor called C5aR. This therapy could be a significant improvement over current anti-inflammatory therapies because it acts earlier in the inflammation process.
This C5aR antibody completely reversed rheumatoid arthritis in mice. The therapy could also be beneficial for psoriasis, sepsis, heart attack and organ transplant patients. The rights to this antibody have since been sold to pharmaceutical companies.
Key areas of investigation
Hope Research – finding the cause of autoimmune disease
Garvan’s Professor Chris Goodnow believes there may be a common cause underlying autoimmune diseases. These are the ‘rogue’ immune cells causing tissue and organ damage as the body attacks itself.
We want to fix the underlying cause of autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis.
Most of the current treatments for lupus are directed at the immune system itself: suppressing the whole immune system with steroids and other drugs, because we can’t identify and eradicate the cells that have gone rogue.
The Hope Research project will identify bad mutations in immune cells (which result in rogue cells), and use sophisticated cellular genomic technology to determine exactly what each cell is doing.
We can then pinpoint chinks in the armour of the rogue cells, and make them susceptible to new drugs and immunotherapy. We’ll have a better understanding of which drugs are best suited to a particular person’s genetic profile.
Work to identify rogue cells from patients with lupus and Sjögren's syndrome is already underway. These findings can now be applied to 36 other common diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.
- Read more about Hope Research and how you can help our work.