OUR RESEARCH

 Staining of mitochondria within a dendritic cell using MitoTracker Red. We are interested in how mitochondria and metabolism within macrophages and dendritic cells change across the day

Staining of mitochondria within a dendritic cell using MitoTracker Red. We are interested in how mitochondria and metabolism within macrophages and dendritic cells change across the day

 

The Curtis Lab investigates how the body clock in innate immune cells, such as macrophages, controls the function of these cells. Our research focuses particularly on how the body clock controls the inflammatory response, which is a key function of macrophages.

The inflammatory response is a natural and protective process to counter infection or damage. However when this inflammatory response becomes uncontrolled it can lead to a number of conditions such as asthma, arthritis, cardiovascular, diabetes, cancer and neurophyschiatric disease. Collectively these conditions are termed Chronic Inflammatory Diseases. We are experiencing an epidemic of chronic inflammatory disease. These conditions are the leading cause of death, and predicted to be responsible for 69% of mortality worldwide by 2030. 

We believe that disruption of our body clocks, due to our 24/7 lifestyle and erratic eating and sleeping patterns, is driving uncontrolled inflammation and this is one of the underlying reasons for this epidemic. The cells of the innate immune system are the key controllers of the inflammatory response and we have demonstrated that with clock disruption in these cells,  the inflammatory response is dysregulated and leads chronic inflammatory disease. 

We use state of the art techniques such as live cell imaging and clock gene reporters to understand the pathways involved.  We are particularly interested in how the metabolism of macrophages is controlled by the clock and the impact of this on the inflammatory response. Understanding these pathways will provide opportunities to develop new medicines and strategies to combat this epidemic of chronic inflammatory disease.

 
 Circadian rhythms from a macrophage. We use reporter assays to measure the molecular clock within a cell. This allows us to understand how certain conditions are affecting clock function 

Circadian rhythms from a macrophage. We use reporter assays to measure the molecular clock within a cell. This allows us to understand how certain conditions are affecting clock function 

 

Research funding

 
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