IMB Centre for Inflammation and Disease Research

What is inflammation?

When someone is injured or gets an infection, their body experiences inflammation; this is normal and helps in the healing process. For example, when you sprain your ankle, it swells up and is painful; this process helps to limit your movement so that the body can carry out essential repair processes.

However, an imbalance between immune cell activation and its control can cause excessive inflammation leading to inappropriate attempts by the body to repair specific tissues, leading to acute and chronic diseases.

 

These include:

  • diseases of the gastrointestinal tract (e.g. inflammatory bowel diseases, IBD)
  • liver (e.g. viral hepatitis)
  • bone and joints (e.g. rheumatoid and osteoarthritis)
  • respiratory tract (e.g. asthma)
  • brain and spinal chord (e.g. dementia, Alzheimer’s disease)
  • metabolic and cardiovascular systems (e.g. obesity, type 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis, heart disease)
  • skin (e.g. dermatitis, psoriasis, itch, lupus), as well as those that affect multiple organs (e.g. cancer, sepsis), and many others.

 

People with excessive inflammation experience pain, swelling and loss of function in specific parts of the body, which results in a breakdown of normal body functions, thus makes doing everyday activities very difficult. New drugs and new ways of diagnosing and treating inflammation are needed to help the many people in our community suffering from inflammation-related diseases.

 

Our strategies

 

Tracking communication between cells

During inflammation, our immune cells use a complex communication network to carry out the inflammatory process. Scientists at the CIDR are developing new sensors and probes to track this cell communication network to find out how the body regulates inflammation.

 

Understanding how inflammation becomes disease

Researchers are focusing on how, when, why and where ‘normal’ inflammation turns into chronic or ongoing inflammation and then to disease. By understanding these processes, CIDR researchers are aiming to find ways to prevent inflammatory disease from starting or getting worse.

 

Developing new drugs

New insights into inflammation processes will lead to new ways of diagnosing and treating inflammatory disease, including some diseases that previously were not known to have an inflammatory basis. CIDR is working to develop new drugs, as well as finding new ways to use existing drugs, to treat inflammatory diseases.