Australian researchers are finding new ways to block the movement of cells in the body which can cause autoimmune diseases and the spread of cancer.
Led by Professor of Immunology Shaun McColl in the University of Adelaide, the researchers have identified molecular "receptors" on the surface of cells which are involved in helping cells migrate to sites where they can cause disease.
Advertisement"A number of diseases like cancer and autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis and arthritis, involve the inappropriate migration of cells," says Professor McColl.
"Our research shows that these receptors which help the cells migrate can be blocked pharmacologically, preventing the cell migration which causes the disease."
Professor McColl, Head of Chemokine Biology, Deputy Head of the School of Molecular and Biomedical Science and Deputy Executive Dean of the Faculty of Sciences at the University of Adelaide, presented these findings at the first of the University's Research Tuesdays free public seminar series for 2010.
The researchers have identified a number of such receptors in multiple sclerosis and have developed potential therapeutic drugs that could control this disease, and other autoimmune diseases.
They are also in the process of identifying receptors on the surface of metastatic cancer cells.
"These are exciting research outcomes and will offer new treatments for these diseases which affect millions of people," says Professor McColl.