Australian National University
Research Field: Medical Research/Immunology
Dr Bruestle’s research focuses on a type of adaptive immune cell called T helper 17 (Th17) cells, which are found in multiple sclerosis (MS) lesions and play an important role in disease development.
To study MS, we use a model known as experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), in which various aspects including the role of Th17 cells in MS is replicated. Th17 cells attract an innate immune cell population, known as neutrophil granulocytes, to sites of inflammation. These neutrophils have the extraordinary capability to extrude their DNA in extracellular traps (NETs) to enable them to ensnare and kill bacteria. However, NETs can also damage bystander cells leading to organ pathology.
Dr Bruestle is currently investigating the interaction of Th17 cells and neutrophils and the direct pathological effects of NETs on neurons and the kind of damage seen in MS. She uses genetic- and inhibitor-mediated manipulation of Th17 cell and/or neutrophil function to explore potential drug targets for MS and to identify molecules involved in this process as biomarkers for disease progression and treatment efficacy. Dr Bruestle has established a collaboration with clinicians at the Canberra Hospital to enable her to transfer her findings from the laboratory EAE model directly to people affected by MS.