Research

The following briefly outlines the main research activities in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology:

Immunology

  • Study of human organ specific autoimmune diseases using experimental models
  • Role of cytokines and innate immunity in autoimmune diseases
  • Regulatory pathways, susceptibility and pathogenesis of autoimmune disorders
  • Modulation of immunity to infection by cytokine-expressing bacterial vectors
  • Immunotherapy of experimental tumors using live, attenuated bacteria
  • Role of Toll-like receptor pathway in immunopathogenesis of bacterial infections
  • Molecular and cellular pathological aspects in autoimmunity
  • Effector mechanisms in immune-mediated diabetes and neuropathology

Bacteriology

  • Molecular epidemiology of multi-, and pan-resistant Gram negative pathogens
  • Population genetics and epidemiology of community and hospital acquired MRSA
  • Pathogenesis of Acinetobacter baumanii infections

Virology

  • Retroviral RNA packaging and RNA transport
  • Retroviral vectors and DNA vaccines
  • Regulation of viral gene expression
  • EBV latency and persistence
  • Role of EBV in the pathogenesis of human malignancies
  • EBV and Multiple sclerosis
  • Viruses and cancer biology

Parasitology

  • Immune modulation by parasite glycans
  • The projects involve state-of-art methodologies and techniques in molecular biology, immunology and various fields of microbiology

Research

Bacteriology

  • Molecular identification and typing of diarrhea-causing enteric bacteria in the UAE
  • Detection of Shiga toxin producing E. coli in farm animals
  • Prevalence of ESBL-producing enteric and nosocomial pathogens in the UAE
  • Molecular typing of MRSA isolated in the UAE
  • PCR-based identification of bacteria carried by ticks of desert animals
  • Detection of Legionella in water-containers in a desert environment by culture and by PCR

Immunology

  • Molecular basis of T lymphocyte activation, anergy and apoptosis.
  • Immunomodulation of microbial immunity by cytokines & growth factors.
  • Use of recombinant salmonella in cancer immunotherapy.
  • In situ regulation of organ-specific autoimmune disease (EAE, diabetes).
  • Mediators of inmate immunity in autoimmunity and immunopathology.

Parasitology

Immune modulation by parasites is now a well recognized phenomenon. In the case of helminth parasites, such modulation results in a stable and predominantly Th-2 type environment. While this permits parasite survival in a less hostile immunological background, the host also benefits by generating lesser inflammatory responses and by indirectly providing protection against Th-1 type autoimmune diseases.

My primary research interests are in the characterization of complex glycans from Th-2 immunomodulatory helminth parasites (schistosomes, tapeworms) and evaluation of their immunoprotective and immunotherapeutic potentials. We have isolated Taenia crassiceps glycans that are therapeutic in cutaneous leishmaniasis. Our results also show that the protective and therapeutic effects of these glycans are mediated by Lewis X type fucosylated sugars.

Relevant references

1. Jang Lee J., Dissanayake S, Morris HR, Dell A. Haslam SM (2005) Mass spectrometric characterisation of Taenia crassiceps metacestode N-glycans. Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology. (Press).

2. Dissanayake S. (2005) Immunomodulation in parasitic infections: Parasite products as prototype immunotherapeutic agents. Emirates Medical Journal. 23: 117-124.

3. Dissanayake S. et al.. (2005) Adjuvant effect of Taenia crassiceps glycans against leishmanial antigens in mice infected with Leishmania mexicana. Molecular Immunology 42: 1495-1502.

4. Dissanayake S et al. (2004). Taenia crassiceps carbohydrates stimulate IL-6 expression in naive murine macrophages via Toll-like receptors (TLRs). Molecular Immunology, 41: 391-398.

5. Dissanayake S et al. (2004). Induction of IgG1, interleukin-6 and interleukin-10 by Taenia crassiceps metacestode carbohydrates. Immunology,107: 411-419.

Virology

  • Study of the molecular biology of viruses.
  • Development of recombinant vaccines produced in plants.
  • Subunit vaccine for Hepatitis C Virus (HCV).
  • Plant viruses as a "surrogate" for HCV antiviral studies.
  • Ribozyme and self-splicing of some satellite viruses.
  • Molecular mechanisms involved in the initiation of translation in Pro- and Eukaryotes.
  • Viruses and internal ribosome entry site in Eukaryotes.
  • Antiviral proteins and their mode of action on animal viruses.