Genetics and immunology

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The Genetic and Immunology Group (GIG) has a background in the mental health arena and is using molecular genetics, molecular biology, epigenetics and immunological techniques to investigate pathways common to schizophrenia, diabetes and the impact of medication of metabolism .

We are investigating these diverse conditions through two main avenues. Firstly we are interested in the biology of lipid-based signaling and inflammation [link to niacin and aspirin project]. Secondly we are investigating the interplay between environment and disease, particularly though adverse immune responses to diet. Some types of wheat gluten proteins may be involved in type-1 diabetes and schizophrenia .

Identification of the principal toxic gluten will lead to better understanding of immunogenetic mechanism of these diseases. Nutrigenomics is a new field, which studies the interaction between the way our genes operate and our dietary intake. We strongly believe the immune system plays a central role in bridging the link between our genetic make-up and toxic proteins from daily foods. Therefore our research work will benefit to everybody worldwide and will influence agricultural and food industries.

Identification of susceptibility genes and risk factors, as well as simple tests (biomarkers) that measure these traits will allow for prediction, treatment and prevention of these conditions. To achieve these goals the GIG has a modern genetics lab , and shares the top class laboratories of biochemistry and cytology as well as the Free Radical Research Facility.

Genetics and immunology current activity

  • Genetic association between diabetes and schizophrenia
  • Investigation of the gluten component toxic for health
  • Study of antipsychotics-induced metabolic syndromes and diabetes
  • Development of HLA-based tagging genotyping technology
  • Isolation and detection of proline-specific proteases from bacteria living in the oral cavity
  • Immunogenetic mechanism of schizophrenia and type-1 diabetes
  • Investigation of the gluten component toxic for schizophrenia and diabetes
  • Study of biomarkers for personalised medication
  • Genetic analysis of type-2 diabetes in a large Caucasian population
  • Biobanks for schizophrenia, diabetes and cardiovascular disease

Ongoing postgraduate projects

Colette Mustard: Studies on molecular mechanism of antipsychotics-related metabolic disorders

Andrew Shaw: The impact of glucose excusion on oxidative stress and inflammation in diabetes