Dr Matthew Sinton awarded Wellcome Trust Early-Career Award Fellowship

by | Jun 7, 2024 | News | 0 comments

Dr Matthew Sinton from the Lydia Becker Institute has been awarded a prestigious Wellcome Trust Early-Career Award Fellowship to undertake exciting new research to understand how cytokines (IL-17 and others) drive changes in body fat (adipose tissue mass), brain communication, and immune cell function – which could lead to new treatments for diseases that cause tissue wasting and obesity. 

Commenting on the award Matthew said “When we get sick, our immune response requires a huge amount of energy to fight off infections. However, at the same time, we typically stop eating and need to rely on our internal energy stores to fuel the immune response, which is a phenomenon that occurs across the animal kingdom. When infections become chronic, this reliance on internal energy stores can lead to tissue wasting (cachexia) which in itself can be fatal.

During my time as a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Glasgow, we identified that IL-17 is a key driver of adipose tissue wasting during infection with the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma brucei. We also found that IL-17 acts directly on the adipocytes which helps to control the local parasite numbers – but we don’t know why yet!

During this fellowship, I’m going to work alongside Dr Juan Quintana and Professor Judi Allen to understand precisely how IL-17 (and other cytokines) drive changes in adipose tissue mass and immune effector function, and the changes that occur in the adipose-brain communication axis during T. brucei infection. This work has implications for other diseases that cause tissue wasting (e.g. HIV, TB, cancer), as well as for identifying pathways that could be leveraged to treat obesity.

Over the next 5 years, this fellowship will give me the opportunity to train alongside world-leading scientists. Moreover, it is going to provide me with the resources that I need to learn how to build and lead my own research team as I make the transition to independence. I’m very excited to have this opportunity, to continue making contributions to the fields of host-pathogen interactions, immunometabolism, and adipose tissue immunity, and to make my transition to independence at the Lydia Becker Institute.”