Researcher awarded £1.6m to further research in immune-mediated diseases

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A RESEARCHER has been awarded £1.6m in funding to further his research which could lead to new treatments for a variety of diseases.

Dr Henry McSorley has been granted a Wellcome Trust Investigator Award which will enable him to look further into human immune-mediated diseases.

Dr McSorley’s research focuses on identifying molecules and molecular pathways by which parasite worms interfere with parts of the immune system.

 Dr Henry McSorley Dr Henry McSorley - Research News Scotland
Dr Henry McSorley has been awarded £1.6m in funding for his crucial research

His research is said to have the potential to produce insights into a variety of diseases, including asthma, obesity, and parasitic infections.

The new funding will allow Dr McSorley and colleagues to continue research on a protein known as IL-33, a messenger molecule that is a particularly important aspect of the allergic immune response.

IL-33 is released when the body senses harmful stimuli, such as parasitic worm infections, activating immune cells to fight off infection and heal damage.

Dr McSorley from the University of Dundee said: “IL-33 is important in a large range of diseases.”

“Its release suppresses weight gain and is required to eject parasitic worms, but conversely induces allergic diseases such as asthma.

“By exploring the exact role of IL-33 and how it is controlled, we could develop new treatments for people living with a variety of diseases caused by the immune system, better understand obesity, and combat infections by parasitic worms, which affect hundreds of millions of people around the world.

“Recently, we discovered that parasitic worms, in an effort to survive immune system assault, produce two molecules, called HpARI and HpBARI, which suppress IL-33 responses, responses that would otherwise kill them.

The Wellcome Trust Investigator Award funding, which totals £1,661,908, will support this research over a five-year period. Throughout the project, the grant will employ two postdoctoral researchers and a technician for five years in Dundee, a postdoctoral researcher in Oxford for two years, and a

Dr McSorely added:“The Wellcome funding will allow us to take our research to the next level, investigating the ways in which parasites interact with the immune system to a degree of detail that was previously impossible.

“We will now carry out further work to determine exactly how HpARI and HpBARI are so effective at blocking IL-33 responses and will also look at how the immune system stabilises IL-33 in the blood, sustaining its effects, and investigate which cells of the immune system respond to IL-33 in different organs.”