Cooperative Research Centre for Chronic Inflammatory Diseases
University of Melbourne, Department of Medicine
The Royal Melbourne Hospital
University: The University of Melbourne; The University of Queensland; Monash University
Industry: Zimmer Inc, IngenKo Pty Ltd
The CRC for Chronic Inflammatory Diseases was established in July 2001 to discover better treatments for serious chronic degenerative inflammatory diseases. These diseases include rheumatoid arthritis (RA), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), inflammatory bowel disease, atherosclerosis, and psoriasis, representing the greatest collective burden of suffering and economic cost in the developed world. In Australia alone, two of the largest inflammatory diseases, RA and COPD, which are the main focus of the CRC, cost the community in excess of $1 billion per annum.
Supplementary funding, commencing in July 2003, was obtained to apply our established macrophage biology discovery platform to develop new methods to treat joint disease. Osteoarthritis (OA) is a chronic degenerative joint disease that results in severe morbidity and often requires therapeutic joint replacement. Recent estimates are that 1.4 million people in Australia suffered from OA in 2000. By age 65, 16% of females and 10% of males have a disability due to arthritis. This puts an enormous burden on the community, costing $1.09 billion per annum, approximately 1.8% of the more that $60 billion of total health expenditure in Australia.
Our specific objectives are to:
(i) discover new molecular targets involved in the pathogenesis of chronic inflammatory lung and joint disease and use this information to develop novel treatments for these disorders;
(ii) reduce the burden of chronic inflammatory diseases;
(iii) strengthen the Australian pharmaceutical/biotechnology sector.
(iv) treat debilitating joint diseases by targeting the molecular processes that cause joint replacement failure, particularly in osteoarthritis;
(v) generate synthetic tissues to repair injured joints.
Areas of Research Expertise
The original research program is centred on an unexploited therapeutic concept, the macrophage biology of chronic inflammatory disease, focusing on innovation in drug discovery and the application of emerging technologies, in particular gene microarrays, proteomics and genetically modified animal models of disease. This key theme has been extended through the addition of a fourth program, focused on a related disease, osteoarthritis, designed to investigate the reasons for failure of joint implants, believed to be caused by similar inflammatory processes. We predict that the phenotype of the macrophages and osteoclasts present in the inflamed tissue surrounding joint implants will be quite distinct from those found in other inflammatory lesions and will present distinct target genes for therapeutic intervention. As with RA and COPD, the study of failed joint implants provides insight into a wide range of related human pathologies. The same approaches and technologies as in our current Programs are being utilized to conserve resources and provide economies of scale. In addition, we have boosted our technology platform, supporting all four research programs, through the introduction of a fifth program involving new computational and structural biology techniques, which enable us to add substantial value to IP arising from our existing research.
Personnel involved in Centre
Postgraduate students: 21 PhD student positions
Full-time equivalent research staff: 70
Chair: Mr Robert Moses
Professor John Hamilton
Chief Executive Officer
Last Updated: 04-27-04
CRC for Chronic Inflammatory Diseases