ARC Centre of Excellence for Advanced Molecular Imaging

Do you look infected? Should I kill you? No, I’m fine, move along, nothing to see

How viruses use ‘fake’ proteins to hide in our cells

Some viruses can hide in our bodies for decades. They make ‘fake’ human proteins that trick our immune cells into thinking ‘everything is awesome’, there’s nothing to see here.

Now researchers at the Imaging Centre of Excellence at Monash and Melbourne Universities have determined the basic structure of one of the two known families of these deceptive proteins.

Using synchrotron light and working with a common virus that lives in people happily and for the most part harmlessly, they worked out the structure of the fake proteins. This is an important first step towards producing better vaccines and drugs to fight viral disease.

The research was posted online this week by the Journal of Biological Chemistry. It will appear in the September issue of the journal.  [continue reading…]

Putting X-rays to work – June news from the Imaging Centre of Excellence

Posted on behalf of James Whisstock, Director Imaging CoE

Welcome to the June newsletter of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Advanced Molecular Imaging.

Another month down the track and the Centre is really coming together.

In terms of facilities and equipment, I’m excited because construction of Australia’s most advanced cryo-electron microscope unit is well underway and should be finished in early September. It will be housed in a bespoke facility at Monash University and enable us to view bio-macromolecules down to atomic resolution. You can read more about the new facility below.

On the administrative front, we are moving towards completion of sign-off with the Australian Research Council and will be announcing a date for our launch in the coming days. And we have also appointed a Centre Administrator, Chantelle Linnett, who will be responsible for project management. You can meet her below.

Meanwhile, our research forges on, and our chief investigators continue to be showered with awards. Several of them have made important presentations all around the world. [continue reading…]

Welcome to the Imaging Centre of Excellence

Posted on behalf of James Whisstock, Director Imaging CoE

Welcome to my first bulletin as director of the Imaging CoE—the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Advanced Molecular Imaging.

The Centre was announced by the ARC in December last year and we’re moving towards launch later this year.

Our chief investigators – at Monash, Melbourne, La Trobe, UNSW, UQ and our partner organisations are pulling their research plans together. We’ve got a chief operating officer and a website ready to roll, and we’ll be advertising for new students and post docs shortly.

The ARC has provided us with our core budget of $28 million over seven years, and the contributing organisations and partners have pledged more than $10 million.

The Centre is all about understanding how our immune systems function at the molecular level by developing and using new microscopy and imaging techniques. Our work will underpin the development of new drugs and therapies to control our immune response and treat infection and disease.

We’ve already got some results on the board with important papers on gut immunity and on the molecular trigger of coeliac disease. Much more on the way. [continue reading…]

The molecular heart of celiac disease revealed

Researchers discover how our immune cells bind to wheat proteins triggering the condition

Embargo: 1 am AEST Tuesday 29 April 2014

Published in Nature Structural and Molecular Biology

Australian, US and Dutch researchers have determined the molecular details of the interaction between the immune system and gluten that triggers celiac disease. Their work opens the way to potential treatments and diagnostics.

Monash, Melbourne and Leiden university researchers, in collaboration with colleagues from a Boston-based company, have described the molecular basis of how most of the immune cells (T cells) that induce celiac disease lock onto gliadin, a component of gluten, thereby triggering inflammation of the lining of the small intestine. This is what gives many celiac sufferers symptoms similar to food poisoning after eating a slice of toast. [continue reading…]

Nature paper: Turning on our immune sentries

A team from Melbourne, Monash, UQ and the synchrotron (including core members of the ARC Imaging Centre team) have found what sends our MAITs into action to protect our gut from invaders.

The patented work is the starting point to understanding our first line of defence, and what happens when it goes wrong.  It will lead to new ways of diagnosing and treating inflammatory bowel disease, peptic ulcers and even TB.

Contact Niall on to get in touch with the team.

Turning on our immune sentries

Melbourne, Monash, UQ and the synchrotron find what sends our MAITs into action to protect our gut from invaders.

T-cell-activation-by-transitory-antigens_smallOur guts, lungs and mouths are lined with mysterious immune cells that make up to ten per cent of the T cells in our immune system. Last year Australian researchers showed that these cells act as sentinels against invading bacteria and fungi. Now they’ve identified the precise biochemical key that wakes up these sentries and sends them into action.