The projects undertaken in this group combine molecular biological and genetic approaches, together with human translational studies, to identify the mechanisms by which uncontrolled signal transduction from the interleukin (IL)-6 cytokine family, pattern recognition receptors (such as toll-like receptors) and inflammasomes lead to inflammation-associated cancers (stomach, lung, pancreatic) and emphysema/chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

2020 Cancer and Immune Signalling Research Group at Hudson Institute of Medical Research

The IL-6 cytokine family plays an important role in maintaining homeostasis of various biological systems, including pulmonary function, the gastrointestinal tract, and immune/inflammatory responses. Furthermore, the deregulated over-production of IL-6 family cytokines is implicated in many human cancers, (stomach, lung, pancreatic, colon), inflammatory diseases (arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease), and emphysema/COPD. To identify how IL-6 family cytokines promote disease pathogenesis, Professor Jenkins’ team uses in vivo pre-clinical disease models in which specific signalling pathways downstream of IL-6 family cytokines are over-activated. Using this approach, they have demonstrated the broad pathological consequences of uncontrolled activation of the Janus kinase (JAK)/signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) 3 pathway. While these studies demonstrate that STAT3 activated by specific members of this cytokine family promote cancer and chronic inflammatory responses, they have also uncovered that under certain situations the JAK/STAT3 pathway cross-talks with toll-like receptors and other pattern recognition receptors (including those linked to inflammasome activation) to drive disease.

Research Group