Novel Immune System Therapy

Purpose:
Identify new mechanisms to activate immune system suppression
Funding:
$911,624, National Institutes of Health
Jobs:
9, including part-time faculty, post-doctoral researchers, graduate and undergraduate students

A malfunctioning human immune system contributes to diseases such as allergic asthma, multiple sclerosis, lupus and type-1 diabetes.

OSU toxicologist Nancy Kerkvliet and colleague Siva Kolluri are investigating the potential for a novel immune system suppression mechanism to provide targeted medical treatments with fewer side effects. This novel mechanism (known as the aryl hydrocarbon or AHR receptor) was discovered in studies with dioxin, a notorious enviromental contaminant that induces powerful regulatory immune cells. However, other compounds may stimulate this mechanism as well.

This project aims to identify such compounds by analyzing patterns of gene expression that are activated by the AHR pathway. Researchers will then develop methods to identify and to test for the ability of other compounds to activate the AHR pathway leading to the production of regulatory immune cells.

Autoimmune and allergic diseases afflict millions of people worldwide, and novel immunosuppressive strategies to prevent and treat these diseases are urgently needed. The project will also enhance understanding of dioxin toxicity.

 

See all ARRA projects funded by the National Institutes of Health in Oregon.