Partnerships, Collaborations and Linkages
The MWCMB benefits from a very extensive network of national and international collaborations and linkages, which in most cases have been established and fostered over many years by the CMB Principal Investigators. CMB funding has been used to further some of these collaborations and to establish new collaborations, especially with other New Zealand based research groups.
The Malaghan Institute for Medical Research, Wellington
The Malaghan Institute of Medical Research in Wellington collaborates with Prof. Fraserís Molecular Immunology group in a number of areas, but most significant is an important collaboration with Dr. Thomas Backstrom through the project on the use of modified superantigens for use as a therapeutic for treatment of autoimmune disease. We have established a commercial agreement with the Malaghan Institute, brokered by Auckland Uniservices, whereby they have license to use our modified superantigens to conjugate to a number of potential therapeutic compounds that stimulate immune suppression and regulation. Out of this formal collaboration has followed a patent to the Malaghan Institute.
Prof. Fraser has also established a CMB-supported collaboration with Associate Professor John Taylor in School of Biological Sciences to examine the efficacy of modified superantigens as a vaccine treatment for hepatitis B. This has resulted in a successful HRC project grant awarded to Dr. Taylor to continue this work.
The Global Alliance (New York)
Assoc. Prof. Brian Palmer and Prof. Bill Denny (Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre) have been awarded a contract with the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development (New York), to develop second-generation analogues of their new anti-TB drug PA-824, which is now in clinical trial. The Global Alliance for TB is an international NGO dedicated to the discovery of new anti-TB drugs. Their drug PA-824 is one of the first drugs to act against latent TB. This collaboration is also with the University of Chicago, who are carrying out the biology. The Auckland-based work on this contract also involves the Structural Biology Group at The University of Auckland.
Prof. Denny and Dr Julie Spicer have set up a new collaborative project with the Peter MaCallum Cancer Institute (Melbourne), and funded by PerforX Pty Ltd, to develop inhibitors of the pore-forming protein perforin, secreted by cytotoxic lymphocytes, as a therapy for graft-versus-host disease. Prof. Denny has also begun a new contract with Supergen Inc. (San Diego, U.S.A) to develop a new class of inhibitors of DNA-binding methyl transferase enzyme Dmnt1, as a cancer therapy.
The University of Minnesota
The Structural Biology Group, led by Prof. Ted Baker, has entered into new collaborations with international partners to work on aspects of the ongoing TB programme. These involve Dr. Courtney Aldrich, Centre for Drug Design, University of Minnesota (U.S.A), and Dr. Luis Quadri at Cornell University Medical College (New York, U.S.A). Both these collaborations were sought by our United States partners, for the development of new anti-TB drugs directed against proteins whose structures have been determined by CMB researchers.
The University of Otago
A new collaboration between Prof. Ted Baker and Assoc. Prof. Greg Cook at the University of Otago will focus on the characterisation of Type II NADH:menaquinone oxidoreductase as a possible target for developing anti-TB drugs. Dr. Shaun Lott has also set up a new collaboration with Prof. Neil Stoker at the Royal Veterinary College (London, U.K.) to study proteins involved in TB persistence and dormancy.
The University of Chicago
Assoc. Prof. Rod Dunbar and Prof. Margaret Brimble have an active collaboration with Prof. Steve Kent of The University of Chicago (U.S.A.), involving the chemical synthesis of peptides for use as vaccines. In 2005, Prof. Kent was appointed as an Adjunct Professor in the Institute for Innovation in Biotechnology the School of Biological Sciences. This followed from his invitation to the CMB in 2003, and a subsequent International Science and Technology Linkages (ISAT) fund grant. Professor Kent is recognised as a pioneer and world authority on the total chemical synthesis of a large number of proteins with important biological functions and will be coming to SBS for a short period every year to further develop ongoing collaborations with the research teams of Assoc. Prof. Rod Dunbar and Prof. Margaret Brimble in Chemistry. Exchange visits to Chicago are also planned which will give us great access to the important protein technologies developed in Professor Kent's Institute.
The Physiome Project
CMB researchers at The BioEngineering Institute (The University of Auckland), led by Prof. Peter Hunter, are involved in a European Framework 6 funding program called @neurIST which is headed by Prof. Alex Frangi from Barcelona (Spain), and is aimed at improving clinical decision making for the treatment of cerebral aneurisms. The BioEngineering Institute also continues to be a major partner in the International Union of Physiological Sciences (IUPS) Physiome Project, which aims to provide a framework for modelling the human body using computational methods. This incorporates the CellML project.
University of Texas
The Proteomics group, led by Prof. Garth Cooper has an active collaboration with Professor Karen Lam and Assistant Professor Aimin Xu (Department of Medicine), and Dr Yu Wang of the Genome Research Unit, at the University of Hong Kong, on their adiponetin work and have established a collaboration with Professor Ralph DeFronzo, Department of Medicine, and Chief of the Diabetes Division, at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, to begin clinical trials of the work. For the work on the treatment of heart failure, the Proteomics group has extensive international collaborations with the Cardiology Division of the Cleveland Clinic (Cleveland, OH) and the DeBakey Heart Institute, Methodist Hospital, Baylor College of Medicine (Houston, TX) and a national collaboration with Prof. Mark Cannell in the Dept. of Physiology at The University of Auckland.
The Cawthron Institute, Nelson
Prof. Margaret Brimbleís Medicinal Chemistry group has extensive national collaborations including Drs. Pat Holland and Doug Mountfort (Cawthron Research Institute, Nelson) and Prof. Mike Dragunow (Department of Pharmacology, University of Auckland) working on chemical and pharmalogical evaluation of novel shellfish toxins, Dr Richard Furneaux (GlycosynIRL) on synthesis of carbohydrate building blocks for glycopeptide construction, with Protemix Corporation on synthesis of anti-diabetic agents and with Neuren Pharmaceuticals working on synthesis of peptides and peptidomimetics as neuroprotective agents. In addition Prof. Brimble has a collaboration with Dr Sergio Bova (University of Padova, Italy) to carry out in vitro assays on vasoconstriction and vasorelaxant properties of novel heterocyclic molecules.
The Southern Cross Consortium
Professor Peter Shepherd's group is the host lab for the Southern Cross Consortium, a grouping of 40 investigators in Australasia who are developing new methods for signal transduction research. His lab has active national collaborations with Dr Dave Grattan (Otago) and international collaborations with Dr Shaun Jackson (Melbourne), Drs Jorgen Jensen and Line Gronning (Oslo), Dr Callum Sutherland (Dundee) and Dr Marco Falasca (London).