A LEADING scientist at Dundee University has been awarded a grant of almost £1.7million to boost his research into the causes of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases which affect millions of people every year.
Professor Sir Philip Cohen is investigating the workings of a genetic pathway – known as the MyD88 signalling pathway - which operates as part of the body’s innate immune system.
The 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.
Sir Philip, programme leader in the Medical Research Council Protein Phosphorylation Unit at the university, has been awarded the substantial new grant from the Wellcome Trust to carry out his research over the next five years.
He said: “There is considerable interest in developing drugs to treat these diseases by targeting the protein components of the MyD88 signalling network.
“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.”