Biomarkers of autoimmune disease and associated comorbidity:
(Principal Investigators: Prof PWA Meyer, Prof MMTM Ally)
Several biomarkers, genetic as well as novel circulatory autoantibodies have been studied to elicited the complex immunopathology of autoimmune disease and their involvement in aiding in the diagnosis, treatment and prognosis of autoimmune disease, with specific reference on Rheumatoid Arthritis. A further component of our study is to identify biomarkers indicative of associated comorbidities, like cardiovascular disease and diabetes in this cohort. A comprehensive panel of these biomarkers as sought to assist in the evaluation and adaptive treatment of newly diagnosed individuals to predict severity of disease and treatment regiments to assist remission.
HIV drug resistance and immunopathology group
(Principal Investigator: Prof T Rossouw)
Successful control and treatment of HIV is one of the biggest challenges ever faced by the healthcare system. The focus of this research group is to explore the drivers of disease progression, treatment failure, antiretroviral drug resistance, and non-AIDS-defining chronic conditions. The group has a special interest in the contribution of chronic, systemic immune activation as both a cause and consequence of these pathologies. In addition, the group is involved in several paediatric projects, namely understanding the immunopathological mechanisms operative in HIV-exposed uninfected infants, the determinants of the HIV reservoir in perinatally infected children, as well as the potential role of monoclonal antibodies in treatment and prevention of HIV infection in children.
Calcium-Targeted Inflammation Research:
(Principal Investigators: Prof R Anderson, Prof GR Tintinger, Dr HC Steel, Prof AJ Theron)
Calcium mobilisation from intracellular and extracellular reservoirs is a key event, which precedes and is a prerequisite for initiation of the pro-inflammatory activities of human neutrophils. This research is focused on elucidating the mechanisms utilised by activated neutrophils to restore calcium homeostasis following activation with receptor-mediated stimuli of calcium mobilisation. Several such mechanisms have been identified. These represent novel potential targets for anti-inflammatory therapy.
(Principal Investigator: Dr MC Cholo)
The primary thrust of this research programme is to investigate the possible involvement of the major potassium (K+) transporters of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in microbial virulence, using gene knockout mutants of this microbial pathogen in which the major K+ uptake systems have been selectively disabled. These gene knockout strains are also being used to probe mycobacterial K+ transporters as potential targets for drug and vaccine design.
Pneumococcal Diseases Research:
(Principal Investigator: Dr HC Steel)
The primary focus of this research programme is to characterise the pro-inflammatory interactions of the pneumococcal pore-forming toxin, pneumolysin, with human neutrophils. Pneumolysin is a key virulence factor of the pneumococcus which is necessary for extra-pulmonary dissemination of this microbial pathogen. Information derived from these studies is used in turn to devise strategies, both pharmacological and immunological, which can be used to antagonise pneumolysin.