Immune cell biology team

Scope 67: HRC funding big picture research into dendritic cells

24 October 2018

With more than $1 million in funding over the next three years, the Health Research Council is backing a major research project looking at molecular characterisations of dendritic cells during different immune responses.

Led by Professor Franca Ronchese, her immune cell biology team will be investigating what makes a dendritic cell ‘prime’ an unwanted allergic response. While the team have spent a lot of time understanding what happens to a dendritic cell during an allergic response, they still have an incomplete picture. Dendritic cells are also responsible for inducing a response to fight a bacterial or viral infection, so have a vital role in proper immune function. 

“We’ve already collected a lot of data looking at this, but we’re finding it’s not enough – there are so many changes that it’s impossible to tell which ones are relevant and which aren’t,” says Prof Ronchese. “We need to look at the bigger picture and what happens to dendritic cells in other situations in order to understand what makes an allergic response different to an antiviral response.”

The HRC grant, which secures an additional research fellow for the team, will allow them to dive deeper into the genes stimulated in dendritic cells during different immune responses. By generating and analysing substantial amounts of data, the ultimate goal is to find and isolate the genes responsible for the development of allergies.