Identifying new epigenetic approaches to treat autoimmune disease

Identifying new epigenetic approaches to treat autoimmune disease

Project details

Developing assays to characterise novel immunomodulatory compounds is essential for translating preclinical studies into successful therapeutic interventions for patients with immune disorders and blood cancers. Similarly, identifying off label uses for approved therapeutics will significantly reduce drug development timelines.

We have deciphered a set of quantitative rules that all lymphocytes must adhere to when they generate an immune response. These rules describe how immune cells grow, die, and differentiate and provides an innovative system to screen immunomodulatory compounds and assign their effects to immune cell function.

In this project we will use this discovery platform to identify and characterise novel epigenetic compounds for treating autoimmune conditions. Additionally, we will pair our modular quantitative approach with epigenetic studies to assign targeted genes with immune cell function. 

About our research group

The Hawkins group is a new laboratory within the Immunology division with Dr Hawkins having relocated from Imperial College London in 2015.

My research focuses on utilising quantitative analysis of in vitro data coupled with single cell imaging techniques to investigate immune cell responses, autoimmune disease and blood cancers. We have strong inter-institute, national and international collaborations.

Collaborations related to this project are Dr Rhys Allan (Molecular Immunology – epigenetics), Associate Professor Marnie Blewitt (Molecular Medicine - epigenetics) and Professor Ricky Johnstone (Peter MacCallum Cancer Center – histone deacetylase inhibitors).

We have a strong background in the proposed project with preliminary results recently published in Nature Communications (Waibel, Nature Communications, 2015 - 6:6838).

The Hodgkin lab focuses on understanding how immune cells process signals and work cooperatively to protect the body from infections and cancers. This is achieved by combining experiment and theory to build computer models of the immune system.


Dr Edwin Hawkins

Dr Edwin Hawkins profile photo
Laboratory Head

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