Nov 17 - 18, 2017, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia
Carbohydrates on the surface of cells can be recognized by a range of carbohydrate-binding proteins including antibodies and lectins. Carbohydrate-binding proteins are being explored to develop therapeutic antibodies for cancer and infection. Additionally, an understanding of antibody interactions with carbohydrates is critical for safe blood transfusion and organ transplantation. A carbohydrate, called galpha-Galh that is present on red meat (pork, lamb and beef) provides a barrier for transplantation of organs across species (xenotransplantation) and has been linked to red meat allergy. Alpha-Gal is not present in humans, apes or Old World monkeys, but is found on blood and tissues of all other mammals. While eating a good steak, pork belly or leg of lamb is widely considered as comfort food, some humans suffer from allergic reactions several hours after a meal including: rash, hives, diarrhoea, shortness of breath and anaphylaxis. Red meat allergy has been linked to bites from certain species of ticks including the Australian paralysis tick found along the Eastern Coast of Australia. Our studies have been examining the three-dimensional structural basis of how antibodies bind to carbohydrates using X-ray crystallography and computational modeling. We previously studied how antibodies (IgG and IgM) can bind to alpha-Gal as a model system for understanding rejection of pig-to-human transplants. The increasing occurrence of red meat allergy is the result of a different class of antibody (IgE) binding to alpha-Gal, but the principles behind the recognition are likely to be similar. The question is can we make red meat safe again.
Paul A Ramsland, BSc (Hons), PhD (University of Technology, Sydney), is a Vice Chancellorfs Senior Research Fellow (since 2016) in the School of Science at RMIT University. Between 2001 and 2015 he was a group leader at the Austin Research Institute and Burnet Institute, Melbourne. He held an NHMRC RD Wright Fellowship (2006-2010) and in 2011 was awarded the Sir Zelman Cowen Fellowship for excellence in medical research relating to cancer. He is an Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Melbourne, Monash University and Burnet Institute. He is an Associate Editor for the Journal of Molecular Recognition, Molecular Immunology and Frontiers in Immunology, and on the editorial board of Glycobiology. He has published 125 peer-reviewed research papers, reviews and one edited book entitled Structural Glycobiology (CRC Press, Taylor & Francis). His current research is focused on examining the three-dimensional structural roles of carbohydrates and glycoproteins in immunity and infection.