Potassium Channels in Lymphocytes: Therapeutic Targets for Immunomodulation in Rheumatoid Arthritis
High specificity is of real importance in biological therapy – picture this analogy: the use of precision guided bombs vs. carpet bombing. The therapy used should minimize collateral damage to the surrounding tissues and systems. Dr. Beeton’s goal is to determine if a specific protein, the Kv1.3 channel is essential for the activation of effector memory T cells. Her lab has discovered a blocker for this protein that shuts down the troublesome T cells while sparing other subsets of T cells. Dr. Beeton will test this therapy utilizing cells from the joints of RA patients, with the control group being osteoarthritis patients. In addition, they will test the efficacy of the treatment itself in reducing the severity and duration of arthritis in a rat model of RA. These proof-of-concept studies will set the stage for future evaluation of Kv1.3 blockers as a therapy for RA.