The following is a description of a study from one of the many researchers that our organization has funded.

Molecular Pathways to Safer Autoimmune Treatments

Koichi Kobayashi, M.D., Ph.D.
Harvard University Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Boston, Massachusetts
Role of AHNAK in calcium signaling in T lymphocytes

Current treatments for autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus are based on regulation of an uncontrolled immune system by immunosuppressive drugs. However, these drugs are often toxic with undesirable side effects. The development of more advanced drugs, with strong immunosuppression, low toxicity and fewer side effects is necessary.

The function of calcium channels on T cell membranes, which transport calcium into the cell, is poorly understood. Dr. Koichi Kobayashi recently found that a large molecule, called AHNAK, is interacting with calcium channels in T lymphocytes and is required for normal calcium signaling. His study will reveal the mechanism of calcium regulation by AHNAK using a mouse model which is lacking the AHNAK gene. These studies should contribute significantly to the understanding of calcium signaling in T cells, which is critical to developing better treatments for autoimmune diseases.

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