What is inflammation?
Triggered by the body’s immune system, inflammation plays a necessary role in the body, protecting us from infection, injury and disease. But when inflammation goes wrong or becomes chronic, potentially deadly disease process can be triggered.
Inflammation has a significant impact on our health and quality of life. It underpins or is involved in almost all forms and types of human disease. Heart disease, stroke, lung disease and cancer, plus infections such COVID-19, lower respiratory illness and TB – all feature in the 10 global causes of death – are all underpinned by inflammation.
What causes inflammation in our body?
Our immune system is made up of the innate immune and adaptive immunity. The innate immunity activates when our bodies need to fight off an infection, soon after these our immune cell responses change, creating an ‘immune memory’ to help us fight off any similar infections even more quickly and effectively. This is known as our adaptive immunity.
Chronic inflammation occurs when inflammation lasts more than a few days, possibly months or years. It often happens when the initial infection can’t be cleared effectively and the healing process is interrupted. Some infections and other foreign materials (asbestos, silica, metal and wood splinters) can’t be cleared by the body’s defences.
How does chronic inflammation harm us?
Chronic inflammation results in excessive numbers of inflammatory cells and the proteins, enzymes and oxidants that these cells release. As the inflammatory cell numbers get too high, they damage our own healthy cells and tissues, and this in turn can lead to inflammatory disease.
Researchers have shown that inflammatory processes in the body are behind many common and serious diseases. These include infectious diseases like pneumonia, influenza and COVID-19, as well as chronic diseases like asthma, emphysema, arthritis, heart/cardiovascular disease, inflammatory bowel diseases, neurological disease, kidney disease and liver disease. They also suspect many cancers also have an inflammatory component.
Researching inflammation in the body
To understand inflammation in the body we have created the Centenary UTS Centre for Inflammation. In contrast to other research centres, focusing on one or two aspects of disease, our innovative ‘whole of disease’ approach is lead by our team of world-leading specialists, who are detailing the incredibly complex pathways and networks intrinsically linked to a disease’s development and progression in the body.
Utilising the very latest research technologies and techniques, the focus is on developing highly accurate models of inflammatory implicated diseases at genetic, protein, molecular, cellular and tissue levels. This has enabled us to identify new targets for therapies and understand the disease processes, that have remained elusive to medical research.