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Student research project 

Supervisor(s): Dr Tin Kyaw and Professor Alex Bobik

Atherogenic IgGs promote vulnerable plaques, leading to plaque rupture and ischemic heart attack. Our laboratory is developing smart nanoparticles that will prevent IgG-induced plaque inflammation. Together with current available preventive therapies, targeting plaque inflammation is expected to prevent premature ischemic heart attacks.

Project summary

Atherosclerosis, a chronic inflammatory disease initiated by lipid and driven by inflammatory responses, is directly responsible for ischemic heart attacks, leading cause of global deaths. Despite use of potent lipid-lowering therapies, a further increase in ischemic heart attack highlights the important role of immune-dependent mechanisms. Thus, immunotherapy supplements are expected to reduce residual risks of heart attacks in patients.

Our laboratory has shown that B cells and its atherogenic IgG promote vulnerable plaque development, leading to plaque ruptures. Currently we are developing therapeutic strategies targeting IgG-plasma cell formation and IgG-induced plaque inflammation. Whilst the former approach will use hypoxia-sensitive nanoparticles that will encapsulate and deliver therapeutic agents to Germinal Centre B cells in a hypoxic microenvironment, the latter will generate FcγRIII-expressing cell membrane camouflaged nanoparticles that will compete against FcγRIII-expressing cytotoxic lymphocytes to reduce IgG-induced plaque inflammation.

Students will learn not only emerging technology of therapeutic smart nanoparticles but also a wide range of research techniques such as flow cytometry, confocal microscopy, western blot to generate smart nanoparticles. These smart nanoparticles will be tested in different mouse models of plaque rupture.

Successful completion of the projects will provide the new IgG-targeted immunotherapies to prevent plaques inflammation and premature ischemic heart attacks. 

Related methods, skills or technologies

This project will expose you to numerous skills and technologies, including:

  • cell culture
  • flowcytometry
  • imaging
  • immunocytochemistry
  • interventions
  • PCR
  • preclinical models
  • Western blots.

This project is suitable for a MastersHonours or PhD student.

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