The main focus of this research group is to study the functional properties and the regulation of a new class of immuno-regulatory receptors termed as Leukocyte immunoglobulin-like receptors (LILRs) (Fig 1) and to define their functional role in determining the fine balance between immune activation and inhibition. The clinical consequence of the functional dysregulation of these receptors and their ligands in autoimmune diseases are the subjects of our continued studies.
We have published several high impact papers demonstrating that LILRs modulate cellular responses through immunoreceptor tyrosine-based inhibitory motifs or via association with the Fcg receptor chain that contain immuno-receptor tyrosine-based activation motifs. We have also demonstrated that an imbalance in the functions of activating and inhibitory LILRs on leucocytes might play key roles in the pathogenesis of auto-immune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. We have recently developed a new ELISA method to determine the levels of soluble LILR receptors and have identified two novel candidate ligand(s) for activating LILRA1 and soluble LILRA3. We are currently defining the role of LILRs in the pathogenesis of inflammatory arthritis, multiple sclerosis and inflammatory bowel diseases. We have an international patent to develop LILR antagonists/agonists for treatment of chronic inflammatory conditions. We have two current NHMRC project grants to pursue these studies.