We're searching for answers to some of childhood's diseases, conditions and issues. In addition to our four research focus areas (Aboriginal Health, Brain and Behaviour, Chronic and Severe Diseases, Early Environment), you can also discover more about specific research we're involved in and the technology we use.
Different audiences rely on us for very different things. Whether you're a valued donor, curious professional researcher, inquisitive member of the public, or a corporate supplier looking to offer support - we've collated the resources you need.
The Human Immunology team works in close collaboration with researchers in the Experimental Immunology and Systems Immunology teams on the nature of the immunological mechanisms that trigger asthma initiation in early life, and drive its progression throughout childhood to its chronic form which manifests during the teen years or in young adulthood.
Some of the Human Immunology team’s earlier discoveries include how airways inflammation resulting from respiratory allergies and from chest infections interact to drive early asthma development, and how immunological tolerance mechanisms normally operate in the airways to protect against allergic sensitisation. Our current research focus is on how these different immune pathways interact in lung and airway tissue to promote asthma, and on the development of treatments that could be used in very early childhood to forestall asthma onset. In conjunction with our TKI-based and external collaborators we are involved in ongoing projects in a number of related areas including:
Maturation of innate immune function in infants and how this relates to susceptibility to respiratory infections and asthma;
The role of the bacterial component of the airway microbiome in asthma susceptibility in early childhood;
Trialling anti-inflammatory therapies to protect infants against infection-associated airway symptoms;
Mechanism(s) of allergen-specific immunotherapy;
Identification of inflammatory mechanisms driving asthma persistence in teenagers;
Identification of determinants of susceptibility to severe viral bronchiolitis in infants.
• Repeated periods of Vitamin D deficiency during early life are associated with increased risk for development of allergic diseases including asthma; this relationship is not seen unless childrens’ blood is tested repeatedly during early life, which accounts for the current controversy surrounding this issue in the current biomedical literature, which relies almost entirely on the results from single blood test samples.
• Susceptibility to the development of asthma is driven by early postnatal respiratory infections. The current medical literature emphasizes the importance of viral infections in this regard, but our recent findings in the Child Asthma birth cohort study have shown that concurrent bacterial infections in the nasopharynx, acting both independently of and in conjunction with viral infections, can markedly increase asthma risk.
• Our previous studies have demonstrated that in allergic children, inflammatory pathways triggered by concomitant exposure to aeroallergen and respiratory virus can interact to trigger severe episodes of respiratory inflammation. In a proof-of-concept clinical trial in allergic children utilizing an antibody that can block the effects of the allergic antibody IgE, we demonstrated that treatment with anti-IgE antibody over the winter months when viral infections are most frequent, can significantly reduce the occurrence of these episodes.