Home' Southern Health News : Southern Health News December 2013 Contents "Having an autoimmune
blood bank will boost
research in this area
and could potentially
lead to the discovery
of new immunological
mechanisms and pathways
responsible for the
development of these
SOUTHERN HEALTH NEWS / DECEMBER 2013 / 7
State's first autoimmune
South Australia's first autoimmune blood bank will be set up by scientists from
Flinders Medical Centre (FMC) and Flinders University, providing a central
depository for vital research into di erent autoimmune diseases such as systemic
lupus, polymyositis, systemic sclerosis, Sjögren's Syndrome and vasculitis.
Located at FMC, the blood bank will collect and
store serum, blood cells and nuclear material from
patients with an autoimmune disorder, including
the newly diagnosed, with the samples to be used
by researchers to identify patterns and possible
causes of these common diseases.
An autoimmune disorder occurs when a person's
immune system mistakenly attacks its own
body tissues. There are more than 80 types of
autoimmune diseases, with latest figures showing
they affect about one in 20 people in Australia and
New Zealand, costing an estimated $4.3 billion
There is no cure for autoimmune diseases.
FMC Senior Clinical Immunopathologist Dr Tatjana
Banovic, who is setting up the blood bank with
Flinders University Senior Medical Scientist Dimitra
Beroukas, said South Australia had no formal
system for collecting and storing autoimmune
"It's important for us to establish this autoimmune
blood bank because it will allow us to have
long-term storage of blood products which may
contain important clues as to why the autoimmune
diseases develop," Dr Banovic said.
FMC Senior Clinical Immunopathologist Dr
Tatjana Banovic and Flinders University Senior
Medical Scientist Dimitra Beroukas are setting
up the state's first autoimmune blood bank.
"Autoimmune research in the Department of
Immunology at Flinders Medical Centre has already
been at the forefront of worldwide immunology
"Having an autoimmune blood bank will boost
research in this area and could potentially lead to
the discovery of new immunological mechanisms
and pathways responsible for the development of
these debilitating diseases.
"In turn, this could potentially lead to the discovery
of new therapeutic approaches to reduce morbidity
and improve the quality of patients' lives."
Dr Banovic said she believed the Flinders
autoimmune blood bank may be the first of its
kind set up in South Australia. Autoimmune blood
banks in other states may already exist, however
only at a local hospital level for the purpose of
individual research groups.
"We are hoping that all of the individual state
blood banks will be joined one day into one big
Australian autoimmune blood bank with Australia
taking a leading role in international autoimmune
Ms Beroukas said autoimmune blood currently
came into the lab in very small samples of about
half a millilitre and had to be disposed of after use
for diagnostic investigations.
"Once a person has been confirmed with having
an autoimmune disorder we will write to the
doctor asking for patient consent to collect blood
at the hospital in a much bigger sample of about
10 millilitres," she said.
"With a larger amount we will be able to analyse
the function of immune cells and their genetic and
molecular characteristics that may be responsible
for the autoimmune diseases.
"We will also be able to look for commonalities
in the presence of autoantibodies, which are
responsible for attacking the body.
"The samples will also help researchers evaluate
the reliability of new diagnostic kits that come on
to the market to detect these autoantibodies."
Ms Beroukas said the blood bank would have a
wide range of benefits for the hospital and wider
"The great thing about the blood bank is that it's
co-located in the hospital so clinicians, scientists
and students can all benefit.
"This bench-to-bedside research resource will
lead to a greater understanding of autoimmune
diseases for future therapeutic targets and
development of improved diagnostic tests."
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