New Target for Autoimmune Treatment Discovered

New Target for Autoimmune Treatment Discovered

LA JOLLA, CA – December 2013 – Carl F. Ware, PhD, Chairman of the Arthritis National Research Foundation Scientific Advisory Board, has discovered a new target for autoimmune disease treatment. Dr. Ware is also the director of the Infectious and Inflammatory Disease Center at Sanford-Burnham. He and his research team identified a molecular pathway that re-balances the immune system by turning down inflammatory T-cell responses, providing a new target to treat inflammatory ailments such as arthritis, psoriasis, and Crohn’s disease that could lead to new breakthroughs in the field of autoimmunity.

The laboratory of Carl F. Ware, PhD at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute identified the B and T Lymphocyte Attenuator (BTLA) inhibitory receptor as a key factor in limiting inflammatory responses, especially in the skin. Dr. Ware led the study published online December 5, 2013 in Immunity.

“Our study provides clarity on how T cells protect against disease-causing agents, and then cools down to restore immune equilibrium,” said Dr. Ware, “Gamma-delta T-cells are the first line of defense against pathogens—and unless ‘turned off’, can lead to unwanted inflammation and tissue destruction.”

Ware has served on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Arthritis National Research Foundation (ANRF) since 1998 and is considered an expert in immunology and inflammatory diseases. As chair of the ANRF Scientific Advisory Board since 2000, Dr. Ware has played a pivotal role in ANRF’s success, choosing the highest quality scientists in cutting-edge arthritis research.

Prior to the study published today, scientists knew that gamma-delta T-cells were essential for initiating inflammatory responses in the skin, but it was unknown how these powerful cells could be turned off.

“Now, we know that BTLA acts as a critical coordinator for turning T cells off to prevent the immune system from spinning out of control and to help rebalance the immune system,” said Ware.

Using both human cells and a mouse model of psoriasis, Ware’s team of researchers described a new pathway that regulates BTLA expression. These findings could help scientists develop new treatments for inflammatory diseases like arthritis and psoriasis by targeting BTLA to reduce inflammation, promote homeostasis, and control disease.

The research was funded in part by research grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Jean Perkins Foundation. The study was co-authored by Sanford Burnham scientists Vasileios Bekiaris, John R. Sedy, Matthew G. Macauley, and Antje Rhode-Kurnow in Dr. Ware’s lab.

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Arthritis National Research Foundation

The Arthritis National Research Foundation's mission is to provide initial research funding to brilliant, investigative scientists with new ideas to cure arthritis and related autoimmune diseases. Writing articles about the patients affected and the science being done to find a cure shows why we need to come together to #CureArthritis!

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