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Ms Catherine Robinson

Senior Research Officer

Catherine Robinson is a Senior Research Officer working in the Immune Tolerance Group, SWSCS, UNSW Medicine. Most work worldwide on natural CD4+CD25+Foxp3+T regulatory cells (Tregs) are on suppression of the general initial immune response. Our group is focused on antigen-specific Tregs that suppress only the specific immune response, and are much more potent. In recent years, we have described the cytokines that are essential growth factors for antigen specific Tregs and that natural Tregs can be activated to antigen specific Tregs, suppress the specific immune response to the antigen they were primed with. These can prevent organ rejection or autoimmunity, and have major therapeutic potential.

Our lab researches the cellular and cytokine mechanisms of immune tolerance that occurs in transplantation models and in models of autoimmunity. We are examining how to modify the body's immune system to accept transplanted organs, to minimise and perhaps eventually eliminate the use of current toxic immunosuppressive regimens, and to alleviate autoimmune disease such as Guillain Bárre syndrome (GBS), a demyelinating disease of the peripheral nervous system causing partial to complete paralysis, and multiple sclerosis (MS), a demyelinating disease of the central nervous system causing partial to complete paralysis, occurring mainly in young adults. We are testing methods of promoting the development of antigen specific CD4+CD25+Foxp3+ Tregs to use to treat the disease.

Chronic rejection of heart transplants is an ongoing issue. In our transplantation model, we use cytokines which specifically promote antigen specific tolerance towards grafted organs. We have recently tested this in a model of chronic rejection in the rat. At this point, clinically, there is no currently available treatment for chronic rejection. We are further exploring how we can switch on these Tregs so organ transplants can be clinically possible without the need for immunosuppression.

Publications

C1 - Journal Article

E1 - Conference Abstract

  • Hodgkinson SJ, Hall BM, Hall RM, Tran GT, Robinson CM, Wang C, Sharland A 2015, Interleukin-5 Therapy Prevents Chronic Allograft Rejection by Induction of T Regulatory Cells, 33rd Annual Scientific Meeting of the Transplantation-Society-of-Australia-and-New Zealand, NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, vol. 93, no. 9, p. A31
  • Robinson CM, Tran GT, Hall RM, Wilcox P, Hodgkinson SJ, Hall BM 2015, Induction of Potent Antigen Specific Treg Cells from Naive Ttreg by Alloantigen and Th2 Cytokines, 33rd Annual Scientific Meeting of the Transplantation-Society-of-Australia-and-New Zealand, NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, vol. 93, no. 9, p. A31
  • Hall BM, Robinson CM, Tran GT, Verma ND, Boyd RA, Hodgkinson SJ 2015, Recently Alloactivated Cd4+Cd8-Cd25+Treg Express Cd8 and are the Antigen Specific Treg, 33rd Annual Scientific Meeting of the Transplantation-Society-of-Australia-and-New Zealand, NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, vol. 93, no. 9, p. A29
  • Hodgkinson SJ, Hall RM, Tran GT, Robinson CM, Wang C, Sharland A, Hall BM 2014, Interleukin-5 Therapy Prevents Chronic Allograft Rejection By Induction of T Regulatory Cells, 32nd Annual Scientific Meeting of the Transplantation-Society-of-Australia-and-New-Zealand, NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, vol. 92, no. 8, p. A25