Micro RNAs (miRNAs) are small RNA molecules (~25 nucleotides) known to play an important role in regulating inflammation. Therefore miRNA may be a novel target to treat inflammatory diseases such as graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). GVHD develops in >50 % of leukaemia patients that receive a donor stem cell/bone marrow transplant (SCT/BMT). GVHD has a major impact on the mortality and quality-of-life for these cancer survivors, however treatment options are very limited and steroid refractory GVHD patients (~20 %) have particularly high mortality rates. Unfortunately, GVHD severity and tumour clearance are positively correlated, which means a balance must be struck between providing anti-tumour immunity and reducing the risks associated with GVHD. Our laboratory is therefore investigating novel therapeutics such as miRNAs to modulate inflammatory responses after BMT/SCT.
We are currently offering a project designed to 1) characterise miRNA expression profiles in patient serum after BMT/SCT and 2) to evaluate potential inflammatory biomarkers of GVHD.
New therapies are urgently needed to minimise the effects of GVHD after donor SCT/BMT. This project will use molecular and cell biology techniques and clinical samples to identify potential new targets for GVHD immunotherapy.
- This project would suit either Honours or PhD students.