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Current Projects

The theme of research program is to define mechanisms underlying chronic inflammation;

  • To identify molecular candidates that are pivotal checkpoints in inflammatory networks, with potential as new drug targets.

  • To delineate the immunomodulatory functions of cationic host defence peptides, and pursue the development of small peptide-based therapies for chronic  disease, with particular focus on asthma and arthritis.

  • To examine global protein changes due to environmental exposures, namely allergen and air pollution.

Dr. Neeloffer Mookherjee

Cytokines and host defence peptides: We aim to define the signalling networks and post-translational modifications induced in response to cytokines that are critical in chronic inflammation, and to investigate the effect of host defence peptides (e.g. the human cathelicidin LL-37) on these cytokine-activated processes.

Modulation of airway inflammation by IDR peptides & its use in asthma: In this project we are examining the potential of exogenous administration of Innate defence regulator (IDR) peptides, synthetic derivatives of host defence peptides, to control of airway inflammation and hyperresposiveness, applicable to asthma. We use mouse model of allergen challenge and primary cells isolated from the lungs, to examine the effects of IDR peptides. We aim to identify the proteins and signalling pathways underlying the immunomodulatory functions of IDR peptides  and host defence peptides in the lungs. We have ongoing collaboration with Dr. Andrew Halayko (Biology of Breathing Res Group) and Dr. Pieter Hiemstra (Leiden University Medical Centre, The Netherlands) for this project.


The lung proteome and environmental exposures: We ongoing collaboration with the research group of Dr. Christopher Carlsten  (U. British Columbia), Air Pollution Exposure Laboratory, to delineate global protein changes in the lung and plasma following exposure to air pollution.

Sex-related differences in asthma: We ongoing studies to examine sex-related differences in response to inhaled allergen in animal models typically used for preclinical studies for asthma. We have different allergen challenged animal models to differentiate between eosinophilic and neutrophilic airway inflammation. Examining sex as a biological variable is being actively integrated within all projects in our research group. 

Sex-related differences in inflammatory arthritis: We have recently started a project to examine sex-related differences in rinflammatory arthritis, with focus on preclinical arthritis before the development of clinical symptoms. This is a collaborative project with Dr. Janilyn Arsenion and Dr. Liam O'Neil. 

Regulatory mechanisms and control of inflammatory arthritis: Chronic inflammation is characteristic of rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory arthropathies. We are evaluating the potential of Innate defence regulator (IDR) peptides, synthetic derivatives of host defence peptides, to control inflammatory arthritis. This project will establish the effects of IDR peptides during the different stages of disease progression in a mouse model of inflammatory arthritis. We aim to identify the proteins, signalling pathways and epigenetic mechanisms involved in the regulation of inflammatory arthritis. Our clinical collaborators for this project are Dr. Hani El-Gabalawy and Dr. Carol Hitchon (University of Manitoba Rheumatology Unit).


Peptidomimics as immunomodulators: We have ongoing collaboration with the medicinal chemistry research group of Dr. Frank Schweizer (Chemistry, U. Manitoba) for the development of novel immunomodulatory mimics of antimicrobial peptides, in particular the development of novel immunomodulatory amphiphilic aminoglycosides.


Innate immunity in Canadian First Nations populations: We are involved in a collaborative initiative with Dr. Linda Larcombe and Dr. Pam Orr (U. Manitoba) in studies examining immune responses to infectious diseases, in particular the vitamin D and antimicrobial peptide axis, in Canadian First Nations populations.


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