From a research perspective, ICBC is interested in ion channels found in smooth muscle. Smooth muscle is a major constituent of the internal muscular organs of the body including blood and lymphatic vessels and the urinary and gastrointestinal tracts. It contains similar contractile elements to skeletal and cardiac muscle but their organisation and mode of activation are quite different. Contractions of smooth muscle are either phasic (rapid single contractions which are usually concerned with fluid propulsion) or tonic (slow sustained contractions usually concerned with varying resistance to flow or control of sphincters).
The main aim of our research is to elucidate the ionic basis of excitation and the way in which calcium levels are controlled in smooth muscle cells. The results of these studies will help us understand the initiation and modulation of contraction in vascular (arteriolar and lymphatic) gastrointestinal and urinary tract smooth muscle.
ICBC is the commercialisation arm of the Smooth Muscle Research Centre, a cross-functional team of 20 scientists with expertise in physiology, pharmacology, molecular biology and organic chemistry. There is a wealth of knowledge, experience, research infrastructure and know-how to bring to help answer research questions. ICBC works with drug development companies including small biotechnology organizations looking to augment their research teams, large pharmaceutical companies seeking innovation or specific skill sets, instrument manufacturers looking to test equipment in the laboratory, and many academic organisations around the world.
Some recent research projects include:
- Mechanism of action studies: Investigating how drugs work at the cellular and tissue level
- Imaging collaborations: Developing novel technologies / equipment for imaging live cell activity
- Biocompatibility studies: Investigating new technologies and their influence on cell growth
- Chemistry equipment collaborations using sample analysis techniques such as HPLC
- Collaborative grant applications, development of research protocols and consulting project