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Dr Marie-Paule Van Damme


[Colour Photo of Ron Maxwell]

+61 - 3 9905 3734

+61 - 3 9905 4699


Current Research Interests:

Research Links:

Polysaccharide-protein interactions
The potential role of hyaluronan in fertility regulation
Functional aspects of antibodies to collagen

Biochemical and biophysical properties of cartilage: In Vitro Models for Cartilage Repair.

Cartilage consists mainly of sparsely distributed cells embedded in a matrix composed of highly negatively charged proteoglycans (PGs) entrapped within a collagen network, a feature that is important in establishing the biomechanical properties of the tissue.

The ability of cartilage to repair itself after mechanical injury or degradation is limited and recently several techniques have been devised to promote cartilage repair. However, in most techniques the newly synthesised matrix has biochemical and biomechanical properties different to those found in the tissue of origin. The aim of these studies is to devise optimum conditions to promote cartilage repair "in vitro" and "in vivo".

Collaborations: A/P. B. Oakes (Department of Anatomy, Monash University) and Dr. I. Henderson (Mercy Tissue Engineering, Mercy Private Hospital).

  • M-P. Van Damme, N. Boyaci, J. Georgallis, K. Chaipinyo and B. Oakes. "Size of aggrecan core protein synthesised by chondrocytes grown in collagen gels and monolayer cultures". Submitted for publication.
  • M-P. Van Damme, S. Hendrickx, P. Stanton and B. Preston "Partial characterisation of matrix components interacting with cartilage proteoglycans". Submitted for publication.

Characterisation of proteoglycans in the endometrium.

Steroid hormones are known to influence the composition of the extracellular matrix of their target organs. One of the most noticeable changes in response to fluctuating hormonal levels is the degree of hydration of the tissue which is attributed to alterations in glycosaminoglycan content.

We have characterised proteoglycans in the ovine endometrium during the proliferative and secretory phases and have established that one of the glycosaminoglycans, hyaluronan, plays an important role in the composition of the extracellular matrix.

We are currently investigating expression patterns of the enzymes involved in the synthesis and degradation of hyaluronan in the cycling human endometrium. These studies will provide a better understanding of the role of the extracellular matrix in preparing the endometrium for implantation.

Collaborations: Dr. L. Salamonsen (Prince Henry's Institute for Medical Research) and Dr. T. Brown (Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Monash University).

  • M. Tellbach, L. Salamonsen and M-P. Van Damme. "Characterisation of glycosaminoglycans/ proteoglycans in the ovine endometrium at various stages of the oestrous cycle". Submitted for publication.

Functional effects of antibodies to collagen on cartilage synthesis and degradation.

It has been suggested that an antibody response to critical determinants of articular cartilage, particularly collagen II, is an essential causal component in rheumatoid arthritis, as for the animal model collagen-induced arthritis.

The aim of these studies is to test whether mouse monoclonal antibodies of defined specificity and a demonstrated capacity to transfer arthritis in vivo can impair synthesis and/or degradation of cartilage in chondrocyte cultures and in cartilage explants cultures.

Collaborations : A/P. M. Rowley (Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Monash University) and Dr. J. Ramshaw, CSIRO Molecular Science, Parkville).

Research interests in Teaching:

Innovative and flexible modalities to the teaching of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Development of computer programs to enhance the learning of basic human cellular metabolism.

  • M-P. Van Damme and M.K. Trembath: "A metabolic challenge on CD-ROM". In. Computer Based Learning in Science (Ed. G. Chapman) 1999.