Autoimmune Disorder Target: DRAK2
This is Dr. Gatzka’s second year of work in autoimmune disorders, studying the body’s natural surveillance mechanisms. When T lymphocytes (T cells), a type of white blood cell, cannot distinguish between self and non-self tissues, they contribute to inflammation and tissue destruction in autoimmune diseases such as RA, lupus, and MS. Dr. Gatzka is studying a particular surveillance mechanism that keeps T cells from going awry called DRAK2 (DAP-related apoptotic kinase-2). Her research applies cutting-edge immunological and molecular biological methods to investigate how a DRAK2 modulates T cell activation and tolerance in a mouse model of rheumatoid arthritis, collagen-induced arthritis (CIA).
Identifying strategies to specifically block and eliminate self-reactive T lymphocytes is key to the development of efficient new therapies for these immune mediated diseases.