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The research program in comparative functional genomics and bioinformatics focuses on gene and bioactives discovery in the mammary gland exploiting the unique lactation strategies of the tammar wallaby, fur seal, echidna and platypus as model systems to better understand mammary gland development and function. The research platform is comprised of microarray, bioinformatics, proteomics, metabolomics, molecular and cell biology, and captive colonies of tammar wallabies and opossums. Research targets include regulation of mammary cell fate by milk factors and non-coding RNA, endocrine and autocrine control of milk protein gene expression, the role of milk in regulating growth and development of the young, mature onset disease, stem cells in milk and milk proteins with the potential to regulate human breast cancer growth and metastasis.
Recently the genome sequences of a rapidly growing number of organisms have become available. The comparisons of these genomes yield tremendous insights into the genes that are essential for life and those that define the species, revealing the mechanisms of evolution and the hidden mechanisms of gene regulation.
Mammals are characterized by the total dependency of the new born on milk produced by the maternal mammary gland and lactation is one of the most remarkable products of evolution. The rich mammalian diversity found in Australia provides a unique resource to study the evolution of lactation. Mammalian species have evolved a variety of lactation strategies. For example, marsupials give birth to a relatively immature embryo after a short gestation period. By contrast, in Eutherians most of the development occurs in Utero. Thus, the marsupial young depends on milk for a significant period of time of its development. As a result, the study of lactation in marsupial is not only interesting for the exploration of the evolution of the lactation system in mammals, but also provides a unique model to explore the role of milk factors on the control of mammalian development.
The Mammosapiens project is employing high throughput technology platform, including genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics and bioactivity screens, for the study of lactation in mammals with extreme lactation strategies. A bioinformatics resource is used to support storage and analysis of the data generated.
Associate Professor Jagat Kanwar is an immunologist and molecular biologist. Before moving to Australia his research activities at the University of Auckland, New Zealand during the past decade have focused on devising new treatments mainly for cancer and autoimmune disease multiple sclerosis and inflammatory diseases such as asthma and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). In Australia, his research has focused on exploring the roles of molecular mediators, antioxidants and cellular communication in the pathophysiological mechanisms of inflammatory diseases, including cancer. He is working on nanotechnology based peptide, siRNA and miRNA delivery for targeting survivin (currently most attractive cancer target), HIF-1a and apoptotic cell signalling molecules expression in the colon, retinoblastoma and breast cancers. For commercial funded grants his research group carries out research in the areas of bioactives as immunomodulators, their role in chronic inflammation such as osteoarthritis. His publications have added to the body of knowledge in the fields of cancer gene therapy, cell biology, immunology and nanobiotechnology. Kanwar's research work generated in total of 8 patent/PCTs with two provisionals in preparation. Five of these patents have been licensed for commercialization to biotech companies Antisoma, NeuronZ, Neuren Pharmaceuticals and Fonterra.
Nano-medicine, Molecular Biology, Gene Therapy, Molecular Immunology.
For more information please visit Immunology and Molecular Biomedical Research
Type 2 Diabetes has rapidly become one of the greatest health concerns around the globe. At the Metabolic Research Unit we characterise the events leading to the development of Type 2 Diabetes and identify new therapeutics to treat individuals with Type 2 Diabetes. To achieve this we have implemented a new technique called Gene Expression Signature (GES) to the study of Diabetes. Our GESs consist of small sets of genes that can differentiate between a healthy insulin-responsive state and an insulin-insensitive (resistant) state. Some of these genes are well known mediators of insulin action and glucose metabolism, while others are not been previously implicated in the development of Type 2 Diabetes. Part of our research effort is focussed in generating specific GES for different forms of insulin resistance and insulin production deficiency. We also aim to identify new drugs that are able to reverse the GES profile characteristic of an insulin-resistant state, as they constitute good therapeutic candidates. Finally, other research projects will investigate the molecular mechanisms by which genes within the GES may regulate insulin action and glucose metabolism.
This is an exciting multi-disciplinary research area which brings together nutritional biochemists with expertise in fatty acids & trace elements, molecular biologists, animal physiologists, experts in diabetes and obesity and sensory scientists