Virginia L. Riddle Memorial Fellowship of the ANRF
The body has an efficient and complex system known as the immune system that develops weapons, called antibodies, that protects us against viral and bacterial infections. Sometimes these antibodies attack the body’s own tissue. This attack process is called autoimmunity, which leads to the development of autoimmune diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE or lupus). SLE can lead to multi-organ system failure and death.
When a healthy immune system does not attack its own tissues, it is called “tolerance.” Patients with SLE show a loss of this tolerance leading to the development of autoantibody production and autoimmune disease. To date, this disease process has been better explained by using mouse models that develop human SLE-like diseases. Using these mouse models, Dr. Rahman will investigate how this “tolerance” process functions and how autoantibodies are produced when this tolerance is defective. These studies will identify the genes that are involved in this defective tolerance process and allow for the development of diagnostic and treatment approaches for systemic autoimmune diseases.