A leading Irish scientist working in the area of inflammation has secured a €2m grant to investigate new theories about how certain cells behave and cause inflammation.

It is hoped the research by Professor Luke O'Neill and his team at Trinity College Dublin could lead to the development of new therapies for conditions such as arthritis, inflammatory bowel syndrome, multiple sclerosis (MS) and Alzheimer’s.

The money is coming through the Investigator Award - a funding partnership between Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), the Health Research Board (HRB) and the Wellcome Trust in Britain.

The work will focus on macrophages - immune cells thought to be central to the cause of inflammation, Prof O'Neill said.

The researchers will be testing the theory that when the cells becomes overactive through diseases like arthritis or MS, they burn nutrients in an unusual way causing tissue-damaging inflammation.

Prof O'Neill and his team have established how that process is regulated and now intend to see if it could be targeted with new drugs.

The professor is considered one of the world's leading researchers in the field of immunology and is credited with helping to push Ireland to second in the global rankings of research in the area.

The partnership between SFI, HRB and Wellcome Trust has been funding biomedical research here for six years.

Half the money comes from the HRB and SFI, with the other 50% coming from the Wellcome Trust.