Autoimmunity only became widely recognised as the cause of significant human disease in the 1950s. Since this seminal work, enormous advances have taken place in our understanding of this family of conditions. In modern medicine, the impact of normal and disordered immune responses extend to most aspects of health care. Autoimmune diseases that attack specific organs, such as the eye (uveitis; see Autoimmune Inflammation Research), the brain (multiple sclerosis, David Wraith) or the pancreas (diabetes) cause significant chronic illness in people. Researchers in the School of Cellular and Molecular Medicine focus on studying how the immune system causes these diseases, using models systems that allow us to test the effects of interventions that target specific molecular pathways, as well as basic lymphocyte signal transduction mechanisms underlying altered cellular function (Christoph Wuelfing).
Collaborations between members of the school and investigators within and outside the University make an important impact on our understanding and ability to develop novel treatments. In recent years these have included advances related to molecules that change during brain inflammation ("Hopes raised for MS treatment") and to treatment of multiple sclerosis with stem cells ("Bone marrow stem cells in MS show promise"). The opinions of experts from the school are sought after for comments on developments in the field ("cell transplants 'restore sight'") and we are also actively involved in the translation of research advances to the clinic (Apitope).