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Dr Xiao-Qing Wei 

Research Projects

Cytokines play a pivotal role in controlling the outcome of infectious and inflammatory diseases by regulation of host innate and adaptive immune responses. My research has focused on understanding the role of some important pro-inflammatory cytokines, such as IL-15, IL-18 and IL-12 family cytokines (IL-23, 27) in the disease process in order to find practical ways to regulate the function of those cytokines for disease treatment. I have studied the role of IL-15 and IL-18 in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and have identified IL-18 as a potential target for RA treatment. Since commencing my dental research work in 2004, my interest has advanced to the area of periodontal inflammation, in an attempt to understand the mechanism of bone loss in periodontal disease and RA. Periodontal disease is a chronic inflammatory disease triggered by bacterial infection. Host immune responses lead to bone resorption similar to the joint destruction in rheumatoid arthritis. In order to understand the consequences of host responses in periodontal tissue damage, we have considered the following:

  • The study of the cytokine IL-18 in collaboration with TNFα and TGFβ for regulation of dendritic cell (DC) function.
  • The generation of a functional soluble human IL-18 receptor α/β heterodimeric decoy protein which is able to block IL-18 bioactivity in highly efficient manner.
  • In order to comprehend the cytokine induced bone loss in inflammatory disease, we have also studied cytokine IL-18 and IL-23/27 in regulation of osteoblast and osteoclast functions.
  • Furthermore we will investigate the IL-18 mediated T cell responses in periodontal disease.
  • By carrying out these investigations, it is hoped that we can understand the fine detail of disease process, which may also lead to clinical therapy.