Cancer and Immune Signalling
Research Group Head
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).
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.