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About the Project

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Thanks to our “innate immunity” – a system which is part of our natural biological makeup – we are able to withstand a daily onslaught of tens of thousands of potentially pathogenic microbes in air, food and water, and in our interactions with other people and animals. But our innate immunity can sometimes get over-stimulated, leading to inflammation of tissue and even sepsis – a deadly infection of blood or tissue. Understanding the balance between infection resolution and inflammation is the goal of the new Pathogenomics of Innate Immunity Genome Canada Competition III project.

Dr. Robert E.W.Hancock, Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at UBC, and Dr. Lorne Babiuk, Professor of Veterinary Microbiology at the University of Saskatchewan, are leading the PI2 project, which will draw upon many of the unique research findings of a previous Genome Canada project, the Functional Pathogenomics of Mucosal Immunity Program. The PI2 project will advance our understanding of immune responses in humans and animals. Specific genes will be knocked out in mouse embryonic cells and in mice derived from these cells, and the cells and mice will then be challenged with the important human food-borne pathogen, Salmonella, which causes intestinal infections and diarrhea. A range of genes representing key pathways and decision points in innate immunity will be targetted for knocking out. Human and bovine cells will also be targetted using siRNA methods, which use a class of short (20-25 nucleotides long) RNA molecules that interfere with gene expression. By knocking out specific genes, project investigators will be able to determine their relevance in human and animal infections.

Bringing together a team of world-class scientists from Canada, the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Britain, Trinity College Dublin and the National University of Singapore, Drs. Hancock and Babiuk aim to increase our knowledge about important infection-fighting mechanisms of immunity. At the same time, it is expected that the PI2 project will provide the basis for new methods of fighting infections in humans and animals.

This project is supported by Genome British Columbia, Genome Prairie and Genome Canada, a not-for-profit organization which is leading Canada's national strategy on genomics with $ 600 million in funding from the federal government.

© 2006 Pathogenomics of Innate Immunity: A GenomeBC Project

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