Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search


HRC funding for emerging Malaghan researchers


13 June 2008

HRC funding for emerging Malaghan researchers

Up-and-coming Malaghan Institute scientist Dr Bridget Stocker and joint Victoria University of Wellington/Malaghan Institute scientist Dr Mattie Timmer were recognised last week with the award of Emerging Researcher First Grants from the Health Research Council of New Zealand.

Drs Stocker and Timmer have recently initiated an “Immunoglycomics” platform between the Malaghan Institute and Victoria University (School of Chemical and Physical Sciences), which focuses on the role of glycoconjugates in the immune response and combines expertise in synthetic chemistry with immunology.

The Malaghan Institute of Medical Research is New Zealand’s premier vaccine and immunology research centre, and is located at Victoria University’s Kelburn campus, Wellington.

The projects funded by the HRC represent two of the research programmes within the Immunoglycomics platform and address the role of glycoconjugates in allergy and asthma, and in cancer immunotherapy.

Drs Stocker and Timmer are excited about the support they have received and are grateful that the HRC recognises the importance of cross-disciplinary research.

The focus of Dr Stocker’s research is allergens, which cause significant concern to humans because of their ability to evoke profound allergic reactions in sensitised individuals.

Dr Stocker has identified an intriguing sugar motif that is found on many seemingly unrelated allergens, including pollens, foods and secreted worm products.

“Preliminary findings suggest that these unique sugars might be responsible for biasing the immune system towards an allergic immune response,” she said.

To test this hypothesis, an array of target sugars will be synthesised and then tested in specialised immune response assays.

Dr Stocker acknowledges the potential outcome(s) of her HRC funding. “These studies will provide the first detailed insight into the relationship between sugar structure and immune responses and may lead to the identification of specific targets that will aid in the diagnosis and treatment of asthma and allergy.”

In a project aimed at improving current immunotherapy strategies for the treatment of cancer, HRC funding will be used to synthesise a variety of novel compounds called glycolipids.

“Immunotherapy is based on the concept that a person’s immune system can be stimulated to selectively recognise and eliminate malignant tumour cells,” said Dr Timmer. “It is now clear that the structure of glycolipids can have a significant influence over the quality of the resulting anti-tumour immune response”.

Dr Timmer proposes that cancer immunotherapy can be improved by selecting appropriate glycolipids to “fine-tune” the immune responses to tumours.

Dr Stocker and Dr Timmer are seeking to establish new research programmes in New Zealand following their post-doctoral studies abroad. They bring unparalleled levels of energy and vitality to science in New Zealand and securing their funding is essential to the continuing success of health research in this country.


© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


By May 2018: Wider, Earlier Microbead Ban

The sale and manufacture of wash-off products containing plastic microbeads will be banned in New Zealand earlier than previously expected, Associate Environment Minister Scott Simpson announced today. More>>


Snail-ier Mail: NZ Post To Ditch FastPost

New Zealand Post customers will see a change to how they can send priority mail from 1 January 2018. The FastPost service will no longer be available from this date. More>>


Property Institute: English Backs Of Debt To Income Plan

Property Institute of New Zealand Chief Executive Ashley Church is applauding today’s decision, by Prime Minister Bill English, to take Debt-to-income ratios off the table as a tool available to the Reserve Bank. More>>


Divesting: NZ Super Fund Shifts Passive Equities To Low-Carbon

The NZ$35 billion NZ Super Fund’s NZ$14 billion global passive equity portfolio, 40% of the overall Fund, is now low-carbon, the Guardians of New Zealand Superannuation announced today. More>>


Split Decision - Appeal Planned: EPA Allows Taranaki Bight Seabed Mine

The Decision-making Committee, appointed by the Board of the Environmental Protection Authority to decide a marine consent application by Trans-Tasman Resources Ltd, has granted consent, subject to conditions, for the company to mine iron sands off the South Taranaki Bight. More>>