Dr Xiao (Tommy) Liu 

Research Officer 
Faculty of Medicine

The University of Queensland Diamantina Institute

Spondyloarthropathy - inflammatory immune responses to bacterial infections.

Arthritis Queensland's Allen and Gwen Warren Fellowship

2020 recipient

About the Project 

"Spondyloarthropathy (SpA) is a family of diseases, which include ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, reactive arthritis and arthritis associated with inflammatory bowel disease, especially Crohn’s disease. These conditions are characterised by chronic inflammation of the joints, eyes, skin and intestine, representing a major burden for patients.

Clinical observations and recent studies suggest that SpA progression might be driven by inflammatory immune responses to bacterial infections. As well, SpA progression has been associated with the presence of cells failing to fold specific proteins properly, which tend to accumulate within cells. Unless proper mechanisms for clearing these proteins are activated, the cell will continue to accumulate poor quality proteins and undergo cellular stress.

Interestingly, it appears that bacteria can exploit these “stressed” cells to promote their own intracellular replication, which leads to enhanced inflammatory responses activated by bacterial infection. However, the mechanistic link between intracellular bacteria, protein misfolding and inflammation is not yet understood. This research will investigate the relationship between the cellular stress response and bacterial infection in inflammatory bowel disease and reactive arthritis using a unique mouse model of SpA displaying this type of cellular stress."

Dr Xiao (Tommy) Liu, January 2020

About the Grant 

Arthritis Queensland’s Allen and Gwen Warren Fellowship

$50,000 AUD

The Arthritis Queensland’s Allen and Gwen Warren Fellowship is a post-doctoral fellowship to support medical and clinical research into treatments for all forms of relevant musculoskeletal conditions and recognised symptoms arising from the conditions e.g. pain. Preference is for a Queensland based graduate.

The Fellowship is named in honour of Allen Warren and his late wife Gwen. Allen served on the Board of Arthritis Queensland for 30 years until his retirement in 2018. 

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