Thursday 29 January 2015

Genes to Mechanisms and Therapeutic Strategies

Professor John Todd, Professor of Medical Genetics, Cambridge University, will be visiting the Institute of Genetic Medicine (IGM) on Friday 13th February 2015 and will give a lecture on:

"Genes to mechanisms and therapeutic strategies"

The lecture will take place in the West Wing Lecture Theatre at 4.00pm. All welcome.

Brief Biography:

John Todd FRS, FMedSci, FRCP Hons, PhD is Professor of Medical Genetics at Cambridge University, Director of the JDRF/Wellcome Trust Diabetes and Inflammation Laboratory (DIL) in the University's Cambridge Institute for Medical Research and a Senior Investigator of the National Institute for Health Research. Todd researches type 1 diabetes (T1D) genetics and disease mechanisms with an aim of clinical intervention. Previously, Todd was Professor of Human Genetics at Oxford University and a Wellcome Trust Principal Research Fellow. Todd helped pioneer genome-wide genetic studies, first in mice and then in humans. He then went on to study the associations between mapped genomic disease-associated regions and phenotypes by founding and deploying the Cambridge BioResource. His research in genetics and diabetes has received several awards and prizes.

In the latest phase of his research, to translate basic genetic and immunological knowledge to treatment and prevention, the DIL has now completed its first mechanistic, statistically adaptive, drug dose-finding trial in T1D patients, establishing new and effective methods of trial design, governance, conduct and patient recruitment. The DIL has a major role in training and mentoring others in patient/people-based research, promoting data/sample access and sharing, and can advise other laboratories and industrial partners in immunotherapeutics and experimental medicine.

Monday 26 January 2015

NanoString, mRNA, Dendritic Cells



ICM Research Seminar Programme

Speakers:  Kile Green & Anders Andreasson


Venue: Seminar room L2.5, 2nd floor, William Leech Building, Medical School

Date and time:  Wednesday 28th January 2015 at 12.30


Kile Green will present:


"NanoString Technology and in-silico testing of Dendritic Cell subset separation"

(Dr Venetia Bigley & Prof. Matt Collin: Human Dendritic Cell group)


NanoString is an emerging technology capable of high throughput expression analysis of up to 800 targets in a single reaction. Cartridges for this technology can be custom designed or purchased as pre-built kits. I designed an in-silico experiment to determine the efficiency of an immunology-based kit at categorising Dendritic Cell subsets from the skin and blood using surrogate Illumina expression data. An additional probeset was then designed to further separate these subsets.



Key words: NanoString, mRNA, Dendritic Cells


Anders Andreasson will discuss:


"Identifying a biosignature of transplantable and non-transplantable human donor lungs in clinical ex vivo lung perfusion – a feasibility study"

(Professor Andrew Fisher)


Availability of donor lungs suitable for transplantation falls short of current demand and contributes to significant waiting list mortality. Ex vivo lung perfusion (EVLP) offers opportunity to objectively assess and recondition organs unsuitable for immediate transplantation. We performed a study investigating putative molecular markers in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) and perfusate that may differentiate transplantable from non-transplantable donor lungs during EVLP.



Key words: Lung transplantation, Ex vivo lung perfusion, Biosignature



Chair:  Sophie Cassidy





Monocyte and Macrophage dynamics

We are pleased to announce that the Immunology North East February meeting will take place at 4pm on Thursday 5th February (refreshments from 3.30pm) in the Research Beehive, Newcastle University room 2.21. 




Dr Simon Jona,  Senior Research Associate, University College London


"Monocyte and Macrophage dynamics”





Should you wish to speak to Simon during his visit to Newcastle please contact Dr Muzz Haniffa e-mail:


Research Interests

Simon is a Senior Research Associate at University College London, focusing on the role and function of mononuclear phagocytes.  Following his PhD at St. Bartholomew’s hospital, Simon worked with Prof. S. Gordon FRS, at the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, University of Oxford, before taking up a FEBS Fellowship, to work with Prof. S. jung, at the Weizmann Institute of Science, where he investigated the developmental profile of mononuclear phagocytes in a number of pathologies.



Wednesday 21 January 2015

Chondrocytes and Sarcoma and Research & Development

The MRG Lab Meeting will be taking place on Friday 23 January 2015 at 9.00am in the Baddiley Clark Building Seminar Room. 
Amy Anderson (Research Associate – PI John Isaacs)
Dennis Lendrem (Project Manager) Title of Talk – "Progression Bias in Research & Development"
Kate Rennie/ (Research Associate – PI Kenny Rankin) Awaiting Title of Talk from Kate
Kenny Rankin 
Adrian Falconer (Research Associate – PIs Drew Rowan/Tim Cawston) Title of Talk – "Mechanical Loading of Chondrocytes"


Tuesday 20 January 2015

RACE to Newcastle

Members of the Rheumatoid Arthritis Pathogenesis Centre of Excellence (RACE) in Glasgow and Birmingham braved the wintry weather to attend the RACE Scientific Meeting at Newcastle University yesterday.

Welcomed by their Newcastle colleagues, the team got straight to work with a scientific speed-dating exercise. This matched researchers with shared interests in immune responses, systems biology, human and mouse models, and immune dysregulation.

Over lunch the team got to meet the TRAFIC Study team before an afternoon of scientific presentations on a range of topics including dendritic cells, innate lymphoid cells, CD4+ T cell signalling in rheumatoid arthritis.

The meeting closed with a presentation by Brett Finlay on the implications of the microbiome on immune regulation and the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis.

Targeting the Rheumatoid Arthritis Synovial Fibroblast via Cyclin Dependent Kinase Inhibition (TRAFIC)

RACE Scientific Meeting, Newcastle University

Taking Part In Research

For a useful NHS Guide to taking part in clinical research see

Tuesday 13 January 2015

Plasmacytoid Dendritic Cell Subsets in RA and SLE





Institute Research Student Seminars

Speaker:  Faye Cooles


Venue: Seminar room L2.5, 2nd floor, William Leech Building, Medical School

Date and time:  Wednesday 14th January 2015 at 12.30


Faye Cooles will present:


“Plasmacytoid Dendritic Cell Subsets in RA and SLE”

(John Isaacs, Catharien Hilkens and Amy Anderson: MRG)


Plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) are a relatively newly identified dendritic cell sub-type. They are the body's main producers of interferon-alpha and have been implicated in a number of autoimmune diseases, mainly systemic lupus erythematous (SLE). In this work we aim to dissect the implications of pDC subsets on interferon-alpha production and clinical phenotype in SLE and rheumatoid arthritis.


Key words: Interferon-alpha, Plasmacytoid Dendritic Cells, Autoimmunity


Chair: Jenny Grant






Wednesday 7 January 2015

MRG Lab Meeting 9.1.15 RA, OA, and PSS.

The MRG Lab Meeting will be taking place on Friday 9th January 2015 at 9.00am in DENTAL LECTURE THEATRE F




Rachel Harry (Research Associate – PI John Isaacs)




Arthur Pratt (Intermediate Clinical Fellow/Honorary Consultant) Title of Talk – "STAT signalling in early RA: diagnostic biomarkers and pathological insight"


Madhu Ratnayake (Research Associate - PI John Loughlin) Title of Talk – "Application of CRISPR/Cas9 system in the functional analysis of osteoarthritis susceptibility loci"


Dennis Lendrem (Project Manager) Title of Talk – "Clinical Phenotyping in Primary Sjogren's Syndrome"


Tuesday 6 January 2015

INE Friday 16th January Dendritic Cells

The January meeting of Immunology North East will take place at 3pm on Friday 16th January (refreshments from 2.30pm) in the Research Beehive, Newcastle University room 2.21.  Please note change of day and time.   



Professor Jolanda de Vries from Radboud University Medical School, Nijmegen, the Netherlands will be presenting


"Natural dendritic cell vaccines to combat and prevent cancer"




Should you wish to speak to Jolanda during her visit to Newcastle please contact Dr Catharien Hilkens e-mail:


Research Interests

Jolanda de Vries is Professor at the Department of Tumor Immunology at the Nijmegen Centre for Molecular Life Sciences. She was one of the pioneers to translate dendritic cell biology into potential clinical applications. The first clinical phase I/II studies in which patients were vaccinated with DCs loaded with tumor-specific peptides were initiated in 1997. She also developed a novel immuno-monitoring assay that is highly predictive for extended survival after vaccination with DCs (J Clin Oncology 2005). Her primary scientific interest continues along the line of DC-immunotherapy and in particular the migration and imaging of DC. For example, in-vivo imaging of ex-vivo labeled cells using MRI (Nature Biotechnology 2005). New opportunities for other cell-types (e.g. subsets of DCs) are now being developed. She recently completed the first plasmacytoid DC vaccination trial.


More details on Deborah's research can be found at



Recent Publications:

1.     Schreibelt G, Klinkenberg LJ, Cruz LJ, Tacken PJ, Tel J, Kreutz M, Adema GJ, Brown GD, Figdor CG, de Vries IJ, The C-type lectin receptor CLEC9A mediates antigen uptake and (cross-)presentation by human blood BDCA3+ myeloid dendritic cells. Blood, 2012. 119(10): 2284-92.

2.     Lesterhuis WJ, Punt CJ, Hato SV, Eleveld-Trancikova D, Jansen BJ,Nierkens S, Schreibelt G, de Boer A, Van Herpen CM, Kaanders JH, van Krieken JH, Adema GJ, Figdor CG, de Vries IJ. Platinum-based drugs disrupt STAT6-mediatedsuppression of immune responses against cancer in humans and mice. J Clin Invest, 2011. 121(8): 3100-8.

Aarntzen EH, Srinivas M, De Wilt JH, Jacobs JF, Lesterhuis WJ, Windhorst AD, Troost EG, Bonenkamp JJ, van Rossum MM, Blokx WA, Mus RD, Boerman OC, Punt CJ, Figdor CG, Oyen WJ, de Vries IJ. Early identification of antigen-specific immune responses in vivo by [18F]-labeled 3'-fluoro-3'-deoxy-thymidine ([18F]FLT) PETimaging. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 2011 108(45):1 8396-9.

3.     Schreibelt G, Benitez-Ribas D, Schuurhuis D, Lambeck AJ, van Hout-Kuijer M, Schaft N, Punt CJ, Figdor CG, Adema GJ, de Vries IJ, Commonly used prophylactic vaccines as an alternative for synthetically produced TLR ligands to mature monocyte-derived dendritic cells. Blood, 2010. 116(4): 564-74.

Rudi heads back home...

And sad to see Rudolfo Gomez Bahamonde go.  

We'll miss you!

New Publications

And another clutch of new publications:

Cooles FAH, Pratt AG, Lendrem DW, Ng W-F, Aspray TJ & Isaacs JD.  Retrospective analysis of the role of serum vitamin D in early rheumatic disease.  Rheumatology 2014


Abernethy K L, Jandial S, Hill L, Sanchez E S & Foster H. Acceptability and practicality of a Spanish translation of paediatric Gait Arms Legs and Spine (pGALS) in Peruvian children. Short Report. 2014 Paediatric Rheumatology 12:48


Lendrem DW, Lendrem BC, Peck RW, Senn SJ, Day S, Isaacs JD   Progression-Seeking Bias and Rational Optimism in Drug Discovery.  Nature Reviews Drug Discovery.  In press.


Lendrem BAD, Lendrem DW, Gray A, Isaacs JD.  The Darwin Awards: sex differences in idiotic behaviour?British Medical Journal. doi:


Arthur G Pratt & John D Isaacs.  Seronegative rheumatoid arthritis: Pathogenetic and therapeutic aspects Best Practice & Research Clinical Rheumatology28 2014 651-659


Wang Hui, David A. Young, Andrew D. Rowan, Xin Xu, Tim E. Cawston & Carole J. Proctor.  Oxidative changes and signalling pathways are pivotal in initiating age-related changes in articular cartilage. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2014-206295

Goff I, Boyd DJ, Wise EM, Jandial J & Foster HE.  Paediatric musculoskeletal learning needs for general practice trainees: achieving an expert consensus.  Education for Primary Care 2014 25: 249-256.

Rankin KS, Sprowson AP, McNamara I, Akiyama T, Buchbinder R, Costa ML, Rasmussen S, Nathan SS, Kumta S & Rangan A.  The orthopaedic research scene and strategies to improve it.   2014 The Bone & Joint Journal96-B 1578-1585.


Well done to:

Jessica Tarn has won an abstract award by the Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation at the American College of Rheumatology in Boston - November 2014.


Shereen Al-Ali gave an oral presentation of her abstract at the American College of Rheumatology in Boston – November 2014.


And congratulations to Najla Alburae (Supervisor Mark Birch) who had a successful VIVA on the 11th November 2014. 

MRG New Starters

Welcome to Hua Lin (Research Assistant - Drew Rowan) Started Date 1.12.14


And extend a welcome to Visiting Researchers and PhD Students from Mechanical Engineering:


Raghu Sidaginamale (PhD Student – Mechanical Engineering)

Ricardo Da Conceicao Ribeiro (PhD Student – Mechanical Engineering)

Sarah Upson (PhD Student – Mechanical Engineering)

Cecelia Olivieri (Visiting Researcher – Mechanical Engineering)