CellPAT addresses fundamental biological questions to identify how cells ‘talk’ to each other and their surroundings.
The centre has a particular focus on how our immune cells distinguish between external dangers and ourselves, and why this mechanism sometimes fails, giving rise to autoimmune diseases such as arthritis, sclerosis and diabetes.
The centre also studies the way macromolecules are transported through biological barriers in the body, such as the blood-brain barrier and cell membranes. This knowledge will form the basis for developing more targeted and effective drugs with fewer side effects. In addition, the centre addresses which signals stem cells need to receive in order to develop into specific types of tissue in the body. This knowledge will create an opportunity to use stem cells to re-establish tissue in the body when the old cells are destroyed by a poor lifestyle, disease or injury. It is thought that such methods will eventually be used to regenerate human organs.
The image above is taken by PhD-student Ali Shahrokhtash in Duncan Sutherland's lab. It shows cells grown on a nano-patterned grid of specific receptor proteins.