University of Dundee University of Dundee
Text only

13 March 2013

£1.7m boost for research into inflammatory and autoimmune diseases

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 £1.7million 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.

Notes to Editors

With more than 1000 scientists, research students and support staff from 64 countries and external funding averaging in excess of £40million per year, the College of Life Sciences at the University of Dundee is one of the largest and most productive Life Sciences research institutes in Europe. Consistently voted one of 'the best places for a life scientist to work' by The Scientist magazine, the College has an international reputation for its basic and translational research and was recognised in the 2011 Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council Excellence with Impact Awards for 'Greatest Delivery of Impact'. The University of Dundee is the central hub for a multi-million pound biotechnology sector in the east of Scotland, which now accounts for 16% of the local economy.

About the Wellcome Trust
The Wellcome Trust is a global charitable foundation dedicated to achieving extraordinary improvements in human and animal health. It supports the brightest minds in biomedical research and the medical humanities. The Trust's breadth of support includes public engagement, education and the application of research to improve health. It is independent of both political and commercial interests.

For media enquiries contact:
Roddy Isles
Head. Press Office
University of Dundee
Nethergate, Dundee, DD1 4HN
TEL: 01382 384910
MOBILE: 07800 581902