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1993 …2023

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Personal profile

Research Biography

Professor Abbott received her Ph.D from the University of Sydney in 1997 during which she cloned and sequenced the gene for the protease dipeptidyl peptidase 4 (DPP4) in the pre- human genome era. Her discovery of the protease homologues, DPP8 and DPP9 during her post-doctoral studies at the Centenary Institute, Sydney was pivotal to translating selective DPP4 inhibitors such as Sitagliptin safely from the laboratory to the clinic for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes. In 2001, she moved to the School of Biological Sciences, Flinders University, where she has maintained her passion for this family working on their structure and function using DPP inhibitors and DPP substrate discovery to study the role of these proteases in diseases such as cancer, inflammation and metabolism. She is internationally recognized as an expert in the DPP field and is a member of Flinders Cancer Research.  Professor Abbott is currently the Higher Degree Research Coordinator in the College of Science and Engineering.

Research Interests

My current research mainly focuses on a family of peptidases that are interesting due their heightened expression by activated cells, particularly T cells and hepatic stellate cells, their involvement in cell-extracellular matrix (ECM) interactions and their roles in leukocyte chemotaxis, T cell proliferation, HIV infection and tumor growth (McCaughan et al 2000).

Dipeptidyl Peptidase IV (DPIV)/CD26 is a multifunctional protein which has three unique biological functions (1) an enzyme activity (2) binding to adenosine deaminase (ADA) and (3) T cell activation. The expression of DPIV on the lymphocyte surface is important for lymphocyte function and in the pathogenesis of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Other DPIV-like proteins, with significant sequence homology have been cloned: DP6, DP10 DP8, DP9 and fibroblast activation protein (FAP). The DP6 and DP10 proteins are expressed in the brain and are thought to be involved in signalling processes. FAP has been shown to be important in the pathogenesis of both cancer and cirrhosis of the liver. The identification of these molecules suggests the existence of a highly specialised DPIV-like gene family in which members will probably share gene structure, three-dimensional protein structure and perhaps functions.

Long term Goal of this research: The discovery of novel DPIV-like genes will lead to increased understanding of the role of this emerging family in the immune system and in disease pathogenesis. In addition, the discovery of new genes may lead to new targets and inhibitor based therapies for the treatment of such diseases as diabetes, obesity, cancer, inflammatory bowel disease and Alzheimer's Disease.


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