Moira's research interests are focused upon molecular mechanisms of innate immune cell apoptosis, in the context both of chronic inflammatory lung diseases and of host defence against bacterial infections.
These two areas represent major therapeutic challenges, with no effective therapies for inappropriate or persistent neutrophilic inflammation and strategies to manipulate the host immune response to pathogens having a potentially exciting role in treatment of antibiotic resistant infections.
The Whyte group are investigating the regulation of inflammatory cell apoptosis as a therapeutic strategy in chronic inflammatory lung diseases. They are using a portfolio of in vivo and in vitro strategies to understand the roles of death ligands, caspases and Bcl-2 proteins in regulating neutrophil lifespan at inflamed sites and how pathogen-derived molecules influence neutrophil survival and activation, notably the role of Toll-like receptors, and how hypoxia modulates neutrophilic responses in tissues. They are also using novel vertebrate models of inflammation, particularly the zebrafish, to identify novel regulators of apoptosis using forward genetics.
Infectious diseases of the lung are a major cause of mortality. Increasing antibiotic resistance, and evidence that excessive host immune responses result in poor clinical outcome, have prompted Moira's group to investigate the innate immune response to Streptococcus pneumoniae, the commonest cause of pneumonia, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a major pathogen in cystic fibrosis and ventilator pneumonia. They aim to identify and manipulate critical regulators of myeloid responses to infection, to maximise bacterial killing and minimise tissue damage. In particular, they have investigated P. aeruginosa driven neutrophil apoptosis as a mechanism of immune evasion in this important and largely untreatable infection and there is ongoing work with both P. aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus.
Academic Unit of Respiratory Medicine
Department of Infection and Immunity
The University of Sheffield Medical School
Beech Hill Road
Tel: +44 (0)114 271 2355
Fax: +44 (0)114 226 8898
Secretary - Beverley Jepson:
+44 (0)114 271 2830