Inflammation and Infectious Diseases

The immune system has evolved to protect the body from infectious agents and other harmful environmental stimuli. This early innate immune response not only protects from viral and bacterial infection but also chemicals, products of dead cells and oxidative stress products, by mounting an inflammatory response.

Inflammation is a double-edged sword. Without inflammation, we would never recover from infection, however too much inflammation can be just as dangerous as no inflammation at all. An over-active inflammatory response can contribute to diseases like hepatitis and lung injury such as bronchopulmonary dysplasia, emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), septic shock, stroke and cancer. It can also lead to diseases of pregnancy, the fetus and neonate including recurrent miscarriage, preeclampsia, necrotizing enterocolitis and periventricular white matter (brain) injury.

There are a number of research groups within MIMR investigating different aspects of the role of inflammation in acute infections caused by bacteria and viruses. They are also studying the origin and progression of chronic diseases such as gastritis, arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), and neurodegenerative diseases such as stroke and asthma.

MIMR researchers are also investigating the links between innate immunity, inflammatory processes and cancer. They are particularly interested in how ribonucleic acid or RNA, a macromolecule essential for all forms of life, responds to the innate immune system. Understanding these interactions are crucial to combating viral infection, as well as regulating immune responses important in autoimmune diseases and cancer onset and progression.

MIMR’s research in this field is carried out using molecular and cell biology, cell imaging, genomics, bioinformatics and animal models of disease.

A man in a laboratory holding a bottle of red liquid

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