Research Strategy and Objectives

The Cellular and Molecular Immunology Research Centre (CMIRC) founded in 2009 consists of 4 research themes made up of 19 research staff and 5 associates from multidisciplinary backgrounds within biomedicine. This community of scientists together with industrial partners is 3 years into a 10-year research programme. We comprise a fairly unique grouping with a singular focus on extracellular vesicles research in biomedicine.

The aim is to use an understanding of the cellular and molecular basis of extracellular vesicle (EV) involvement in infectious disease and cancer biogenesis/metastasis, to develop effective interventions and to use EVs as targeted therapeutic agents. The focus is now on prostate cancer (finding new cancer immunotherapies and working on sodium and calcium channels in cancer) and viral infection (coxsackie and rhinovirus) and tissue regeneration (using planaria as a model).

The strength of CMIRC’s approach is that it is involved in the basic laboratory work and aims to make its research findings translational. It is therefore actively involved, through collaboration with industry, and other pan-European labs in bringing about clinical applications.

CMIRC is dedicated to train researchers to PhD level and to provide opportunities for postdoctoral researchers. Visitors are always welcome as are interns trying to see whether research is for them. CMIRC aims also to increase awareness of extracellular vesicles research and of its potential application; our approach is to make potential future students aware of opportunities in research through school talks and competitions. We are also excited that the subject of extracellular vesicles (microvesicles and exosomes) has now entered the curriculum and is taught in our Applied and Advanced Immunology modules, part of the BSc and MSc Biomedical Science, respectively.

In 2013, according to the Complete University Guide, London Metropolitan University was rated joint 6th best in London, out of 14 (level with University of Westminster) in an assessment of its research in Subjects Allied to Medicine. This assessment is on a par with the last Research Assessment Exercise carried out by the Higher Education Funding Council for England in 2008.

(The complete university guide)

The CMIRC image is the modelled peptide structure of the immunologically important part of Schistosoma Tetraspanning Orphan Receptor (formerly Trispanning Orphan Receptor) discovered in 1997 (Inal, J. (1999) Schistosoma TOR (Trispanning Orphan Receptor), a novel, antigenic surface receptor of the blood-dwelling, Schistosoma parasite. Biochim. Biophys. Acta 1445, 283-298; Inal, J. and Sim, R.B. (2000) FEBS Lett. 470, 131-134; J. Immunol. 168, 5213-5221; J. Immunol 170, 4310-4317) and more recently shown to be a prime vaccine candidate against Schistosoma mansoni (Lochmatter, C. et al., (2012) Clin. Exp. Immunol. 170, 342-357). 

Twitter: @microvesicles

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Further Information:

Professor Jameel Inal
Director, Cellular & Molecular Immunology Research Centre
Faculty of Life Sciences & Computing
London Metropolitan University
166-220 Holloway Road
London N7 8DB, UK

Tel: +44(0) 20 7133 2122‌

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Prostate Cancer Research Theme

Prof. Jameel Inal (Director)
Ryan Grant (PhD student)
Dr. Ahmad Haidery MSc, M.D. (PhD student)
Dr. Samireh Jorfi (Lecturer)
Sharad Kholia MSc (Marie Curie Postodoctoral Research Fellow)
Dr. Tim Scott-Taylor (Snr. Lecturer)
Dr. Dan Stratton (Lecturer)
Sarah Azam (PhD student)
Uchini Kosgodage (PhD student)
Dona Manaperuma (PhD student)
Anfal Sharif (PhD student)

Our projects include:

  1. Inhibition of microvesiculation to limit drug efflux in prostate cancer. This is coupled to another project on using microvesicles (including those derived from stem cells) as targeted drug delivery vehicles in cancer research.
  2. Use of prostate cancer-targeted microvesicles delivering both chemotherapeutic drug and inhibiting subsequent microvesiclation.
  3. The role of microvesicles in EMT transdifferentiation in prostate cancer.
  4. HPV/EBV and microvesicles in prostate cancer.
  5. Microvesicles and complement inhibiting peptides that break tolerance by inhibiting iC3b-CR3 interaction, thus allowing maturation of dendritic cells; Novel immunotherapeutic approaches in prostate cancer therapy.
  6. Transdifferentiation and dedifferentiation in monocytic leukaemia.

Cancer cells can evade chemotherapeutic treatment

Infectious Disease Research Theme

Dr. Gary McClean (Reader, Deputy Director)
Sarah Azam MSc (PhD student)
Prof. Jameel Inal  
Dr. Samireh Jorfi  (Lecturer)     
Simona Velkova (Research Assistant)

Our studies in the area of host microvesicles and rhinovirus infection include:

  1. Characterising the kinetics, structure and contents of microvesicles released from cells following rhinovirus (RV) infection;
  2. Inhibiting microvesicle release and adding exogenous microvesicles to modulate RV infections in vitro;
  3. Determining microvesicles in nasal and bronchoalveolar lavage samples obtained following experimental RV infections.

This is a novel and untested hypothesis for the non-enveloped RV, although previous research has identified a role for MV’s in the infection of cells by the related non-enveloped virus coxsackie type B and important human enveloped viruses including hepatitis C virus, human immunodeficiency virus, Epstein-Barr virus and human cytomegalovirus.

Schematic diagram representing airway lumen and epithelial cells(EC) rhinovirus(RV) infection and replication leading to microvesicle release and the subsequent modulation of further RV infections

Other projects include

  • The role of intracellular pathogen released microvesicles from host cells in co infection using Salmonella typhimurium and Coxsackie virus B. 
  • The role of host cell microvesicles in the infection process of the intracellular Trypanosoma cruzi (in collaboration with Marcel Ramirez, Brasil)

Regenerative Medicine Research Theme

Dr. Dan Stratton (Lecturer)
Dr. Chris Bax (Principal Lecturer)
Prof. Chris Palmer
Memory Pinchbeck (Research Associate)
Marjan Jeddi (PhD student)

Dr Dan Stratton has been engaged in characterising microvesicle biogenesis. This unique work lead to the discovery of two distinct microvesicle subtypes that are identifiable from one parent cell type depending on their pathways of biogenesis. The research involved describing their distinct properties such as protein profile, size and receptor expression and how this relates to their biogenesis. This research also discovered for the first time that microvesicles carry calcium as cargo.

Applying the field of microvesicles to tissue regeneration, the RMRG aims to better understand the molecular and biochemical principles underling planarian tissue redistribution, regeneration and apply them to Human medicine.

Key objectives:

  1. To elucidate the role of microvesicles in planaria and Human regeneration.
  2. To identify Human homologues to protein expression during planaria regeneration and apply the mechanisms of their expression to human cells.
  3. To discover the processes governing cellular redistribution according to their scale.
  4. To develop and employ the necessary tools to conduct the research.

Microvesicles have been shown to be implicated in a wide variety of cellular functions including, apoptosis, differentiation, proliferation and metastasis.

RMRG will be conducting tissue repair work using the 3D printing process. In conjunction with our other research interests this offers exciting possibilities into Human regenerative medicine.

Microvesicle Characterisation Research Theme

Sheelagh Heugh (Principal Lecturer)
Roberta Freezor (PhD student)
Prof. Jameel Inal
Julie Lee (PhD student)
Dr. Gary McClean (Reader)
Dr. Dan Stratton (Senior Lecturer)

The characterisation theme carries out proteomic studies and miRNA screening on the various projects in CMIRC. Following on from Dr. Stratton’s PhD research MCRG is continuing the characterisation of microvesicles released upon stimulating cells (sMVs) and those constitutively release (cMVs) with a particular focus on erythrocyte microvesicles. We also collaborate with Dr. Scott-Wildman of the Medway School of Pharmacy to study microvesicles in renal transplant recipients (RTRs) who are particularly susceptible to recurrent urinary tract infection.‌

Lab of Membrane and Cancer cell signalling

Previously Professor Chris Palmer worked on the molecular biology of the HIV-1 transmembrane protein at Reading University, Professor Palmer's research moved on to carry out research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on mechanosensitive ion channels in yeast and humans and on the role of Sigma-1 receptors in Potassium channel modulation in neurones. More recently Professor Palmer worked at Imperial College investigating the role of ion channels and transporters in Cancer.

Professor Palmer's present work involves the involvement of ion channels, receptors and transporters in cancer, particularly Breast Cancer, Colon cancer, Prostate cancer and ovarian cancer. The labs expertise is in cancer biology, tissue culture, molecular biology and ion channel analysis. The group have research facilities for molecular biology, tissue culture, ion channel analysis and cancer cell assays of metastasis.

Current projects:

  • Developing blockers to Calcium channels involved in neuropathic pain
  • Analysis of traditional Chinese herbs towards the understanding of bio therapeutics of cancer
  • Sigma-1 receptor role in modulating Sodium ion channels ion in Breast Cancer
  • Role of citrate transporters in metastasis of Prostate Cancer
  • Developing micro vesicle based therapies for the knockdown of Sodium channels in Breast and Colon Cancer
  • At present there are opportunities for self-funded PhD students either part-time or full-time.
  • Please contact Professor Chris Palmer by email for more details:


Cellular and Molecular Immunology Research Centre