Designed to Lead Developments in Immune-Mediated Disease
CITIID is already driving therapeutic breakthroughs in immune-mediated disease such as inflammatory bowel disease and systemic lupus erythematosus. The incidence of such disease is rising worldwide at a truly alarming rate and collectively they represent a major global public health issue. We study what drives these diseases – how they develop and evolve, and how they cause harm to humans – and use this understanding to develop new therapeutic strategies that can be translated quickly and safely to patients worldwide.
A key strength of CITIID is that immune-mediated disease is studied alongside infectious disease. The human immune system has evolved to defend us against the dangerous microorganisms that cause disease; autoimmunity and inflammatory diseases are caused when this defence mechanism malfunctions. Crucially, a dysfunctional immune system uses the same molecular pathways and mechanisms as a healthy immune system uses to fight infection, which means vital insights emerge from tackling infectious disease and autoimmunity together.
Over 100,000 individuals suffer from immunodeficiency in the UK. Some of these have acquired this though infection, age or environmental factors, but for others there is a genetic cause. These individuals can be burdened by an inability to clear infections. They can also be troubled by symptoms of auto-immunity such as inflammatory bowel disease, asthma or arthritis. For some of these diseases the genetic cause is known, but for many others the genes and the cellular pathways they regulate are unclear.
Over the last four years scientists at CITIID have established and run a whole genome sequencing-based programme to investigate undiagnosed primary immunodeficiency. This has provided over three hundred diagnostic reports, uncovered the genes associated with primary immunodeficiency, and allowed the genetic variation in the development of these diseases to be explored.
Designed to Combat Multi-Drug Resistance
Antimicrobial resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health and international food security – drug resistance is one well-documented example. Scientists at CITIID develop novel approaches to overcome this challenge.
Considering how human genetics responds to infection is a key component in understanding the role of the microbiome in health and disease. By using cutting-edge scientific methods to monitor the spread of antimicrobial resistance, our scientists can even use historical data to understand the spread of multi-drug resistance long after an outbreak. Such studies have an enormous impact on our ability to manage the continued spread of a disease and allow us to anticipate future threats.
A Centre for Global Answers
Infectious disease, antimicrobial resistance and autoimmunity are three of humanity’s deadliest foes and a major global challenge. Cambridge is one of the world’s leading research universities, working across disciplines with international partners to find solutions to global these challenges.
CITIID is at the centre of efforts to understand the spread of disease. With researchers working directly in countries throughout the globe, we have a very real understanding of the impact diseases have on patients. Many of our projects are in third world countries where socio-economic factors make the impacts of these diseases even greater.