Helen C. Steel

University of Pretoria, South Africa


Helen C. Steel has been employed in the Department of Immunology, University of Pretoria since April 1994 as a Senior Medical Researcher. Steel has been involved in a number of research projects in the Department; these include investigating the cation transport systems operative in Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria as potential novel targets in the development of new antimicrobial agents. This project led to Steel obtaining the Ph.D. degree in medical immunology in 1998. In addition, Steel has investigated the role of phospholipase A2 as an intrinsic oxygen-independent host defence mechanism in human phagocytes and the antimicrobial potential of the bioactive phospholipids generated by this system in phagocytes from healthy subjects and those from patients with compromised oxygen-dependent antibacterial mechanisms (such as chronic granulomatous disease). Recently, Steel's research interests have focused on characterizing the proinflammatory activities of pneumolysin, a key virulence factor of Streptococcus pneumonia. Steel is also actively involved in the calcium-based inflammation research of the Department. Steel has aided in determining the molecular/biochemical mechanisms involved in the restoration of calcium homeostasis following receptor-mediated activation of human neutrophils with platelet-activating factor (PAF). Together with Steel's colleagues, we have identified several novel targets for neutrophil-directed anti-inflammatory chemotherapy, all of which are involved in calcium release/handling during exposure of the cells to proinflammatory stimuli.

Biography Updated on 1 June 2011

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