Principle Investigator: Stephen Waggoner, PhD
Systemic lupus erythematosus, or lupus, is a serious disease in which the immune system attacks the body and damages organs. Current therapies are limited to non-specific anti-inflammatory agents that can limit symptoms but fail to address the underlying disease. New strategies are needed that target the actual causes of lupus to better manage disease and potentially permit cure. We have discovered a type of cell, known as a natural killer cell, that is capable of inhibiting the cells that cause lupus. Unfortunately, this activity of natural killer cells is reduced in patients with lupus. We suspect that this dysfunction is due to measurable changes in the expression of important genes within patient NK cells.
We aim to quantify these changes and identify genes that can be therapeutically manipulated to restore the function of natural killer cells. Our long-term objective is to understand the cause of natural killer cell dysfunction and to develop effective therapies to restore this activity in order to reduce disease symptoms and progression in lupus patients.