Immunoglycomics

A/Prof Bridget Stocker and A/Prof Mattie Timmer

Researchers from the Immunoglycomics group
A/Profs Stocker and Timmer in the immunoglycomics lab.

Nau mai, haere mai ki tō mātou whārangi ipurangi. Kei waenganui ō te mātai matū me te mātai koiora te take mātua ō tēnei rangahau. Mā te whakawhanake ō ngā taputapu pūtaiao, kā mārama. Mā te mārama, kia piki te ora

Welcome to the Immunoglycomics group webpage.

Our core research lies at the interface of chemistry and biology and, in general, concerns the development of chemical tools to better understand and treat disease. A key research theme involves vaccine development, particularly for infectious diseases that are over-represented in Māori and Pacific people (e.g. Group A Streptococcus and Streptococcus pneumoniae), as well as therapeutics for diseases for which Māori and Pacific people have a worse prognostic outcome (e.g. colorectal cancer). To undertake this research we develop new molecules, investigate how they interact with immune cells, and then team up with leading collaborators in the respective fields to bring our ideas to fruition. In addition, we also have a small research team looking at methods to improve the efficiency of solar cells. That’s the beauty of organic chemistry – molecules are everywhere.

Below is a selection of research projects. This list is by no means exclusive but should provide a flavour of our research programme.

Mauri oho
Mauri tū
Mauri ora ki a tātou
Haumi e, hui e, tāiki e!


Awaken the spirit
Engage the spirit
The spirit of life amongst us
Be united in purpose!

From: Tikanga Māori at Victoria


News

Three research articles from PhD students in the Immunoglycomics group were recently selected to feature on covers of the Royal Society of Chemistry journal ‘Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry’ (OBC) in the space of 3 months. The editorial office mentioned that it was highly unusual to be selected to provide cover images at such a frequently, but that the work justified it.

Cover Mattie Cover Ayesha Cover Amy

So special mention to:

1: Chriselle Braganza (final year PhD student, 2020); for the article:
‘The effect of MR1 ligand glyco-analogues on mucosal-associated invariant T (MAIT) cell activation.” Chriselle D. Braganza, Kensuke Shibata,* Aisa Fujiwara, Chihiro Motozono, Koh-Hei Sonoda, Sho Yamasaki, Bridget L. Stocker* and Mattie S. M. Timmer*. Org. Bio. Chem. 2019, 17, 8992–9000. https://doi.org/10.1039/C9OB01436E

2: Ayesha Khan (final year PhD student, 2020); for the article:
“Stereochemistry, lipid length and branching influences Mincle agonist activity of monoacylglycerides.” Ayesha Khan, Chriselle D. Braganza, Kristel Kodar, Mattie S. M. Timmer*and Bridget L. Stocker*. Org. Bio. Chem. 2020, 18, 355-572. https://doi.org/10.1039/C9OB02302J

3: Dr Amy Foster (graduated in 2018); for the article:
“Ortho-substituted Lipidated Brartemicin Derivative shows promising Mincle-mediated Adjuvant Activity.” Amy J. Foster, Kristel Kodar, Mattie S. M. Timmer* and Bridget L. Stocker*. Org. Bio. Chem. 2020, 18, 1015-1222. https://doi.org/10.1039/C9OB02397F

All work relates to the development of ligands for the immune cell receptor ‘Mincle’ or for a newly identified class of immune cell called a ‘MAIT’ cell. The application of this work is in the development of vaccine adjuvants or cancer immunotherapies. The work was supported through funding by the Health Research Council of New Zealand (Hercus Fellowship) and the Marsden Fund.


Current projects

The following research projects are now available:

  • Vaccine adjuvant development for preventative vaccines
  • Glycolipid adjuvants for anti-cancer immunotherapy
  • MAIT cell ligands for therapeutic applications
  • Carbohydrate ligation methodologies
  • Improving solar cell efficiency

See Research projects for more information.


People

Current members of the Immunoglycomics group: (See People)

Academic staff

Associate Professor of Bio-Medical Chemistry
School of Chemical and Physical Sciences

Associate Professor
School of Chemical and Physical Sciences

Recent highlights

"Te tiro atu to kanohi ki tairawhiti ana tera whiti te ra kite ataata ka hinga ki muri kia koe."
"Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you."

adjuvants for vetenirary vaccines
Better adjuvants for vetenirary vaccines.

MBIE Success! Better Adjuvants for Veterinary Vaccines

Grants come and go – you win some, you lose some – but this is a particularly memorable one. In September 2018 a collaborator wrote to us expressing their congratulations on our recent Smart Ideas MBIE grant, which aims to develop better vaccines for sheep pathogens by selectively skewing the immune response. I was like, huh? You’re kidding, right?

For those new to the story, in 2018 we had twin babies and a toddler and were days (if not weeks) behind with most things – and keeping abreast of the MBIE results was just one such thing. We wrote the MBIE grant when the twins were newborns, each sitting in bed at night holding a baby while doing our best to type with the other hand. Kudos to Justin and Natalie for visiting on one such occasion – our method of work would never have been believed otherwise.

It was a mammoth effort to get the grant done and at times I came close to slamming my computer shut so that I could just focus on what was already a challenging job of being a parent to three kids. Needless to say – I’m pleased we persevered. Now we have started an awesome collaboration with Neil, Axel and Natalie from AgResearch and the initial results are very promising.

Podcast - Dr Bridget Stocker and Dr Mattie Timmer

Vaccine adjuvants

I was due to have an interview with Kathryn Ryan on Radio New Zealand National in March 2018 on the development of vaccine adjuvants. However, this needed to be cancelled for a very good reason – I went into labour with my twins. We re-scheduled the interview, which we did six weeks later. Behind the scenes were an army of people looking after our twins plus then 2 year old. Thanks! It was nice to get out of the house.

To listen to the podcast please visit Radio NZ.

Publications

Please see Publications.

Vacancies

Please contact for further information on current vacancies.

Associate Professor of Bio-Medical Chemistry
School of Chemical and Physical Sciences

Associate Professor
School of Chemical and Physical Sciences

Research funding

Funding grants from the Marsden Fund, Health Research Council of New Zealand, the Cancer Society, Lottery Health Research, the Wellington Medical Research Foundation, and from industry currently support our research programmes.