Two outstanding scientists recognized for transformative Lupus research projects
NEW YORK, NY. December 20 — The Lupus Research Alliance is proud to announce the 2018 recipients of the Dr. William E. Paul Distinguished Innovator Award in Lupus and Autoimmunity: Nir Hacohen, PhD and Vijay Kuchroo, DVM, PhD. Dr. Hacohen is seeking better ways to treat lupus kidney disease, the major cause of illness and death among patients with lupus. Dr. Kuchroo is looking at ways to harness regulatory T and B cells as a new approach to lupus treatment. Both projects have the potential to stimulate innovative strategies for prevention, treatment, and cure of lupus.
Dr. Hacohen serves as Director of the Center for Cell Circuits and Center for Cancer Immunology, Massachusetts General Hospital and Broad Institute, and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Kuchroo is a Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
The Immune Response in Lupus Nephritis
Lupus nephritis (inflammation of the kidneys) is a major cause of illness and death among patients with lupus. The failure to stop the harmful effects caused by lupus nephritis is thought by many researchers to be due to an incomplete understanding of the immune system.
Dr. Hacohen is seeking to understand why the immune response (to tumors, bacteria or self) varies so dramatically across individuals. According to Dr. Hacohen, “The results of these studies will generate new hypotheses for how immune cells work together to cause tissue damage in lupus nephritis patient kidneys, lead to new drug targets and better predictors of disease, and guide researchers in the improvement of mouse models to understand human lupus nephritis.”
The Role Proteins Play in Regulating the Body’s Immune System in Lupus
Our immune system is an elaborate network of cells, tissues, and organs that helps to protect the body from “invaders” such as bacteria, viruses, fungal infections and parasites. In autoimmune diseases such as lupus, the immune system turns against itself and the cells of the immune system injure the body’s own tissues.
“T cells and B cells are the primary types of lymphocytes (a subtype of white blood cells) that determine the body’s immune response to foreign substances in the body,” noted Dr. Kuchroo. “Once activated to mount an immune response, T and B cells need to be turned off by another class of regulatory cells. In patients with lupus, these regulatory cells are not able to properly function. This study will examine how to induce and promote the function of these regulatory T and B cells for treating lupus.”
The Distinguished Innovator Award
The Distinguished Innovator Award was established in 2012 under the leadership of Dr. Bill Paul, the late Lupus Research Institute Scientific Advisory Board Chair and former Chief of the Laboratory of Immunology at the National Institutes of Health. The Award encourages exceptional investigators worldwide to pursue innovative research projects that pair unconventional creativity with sound science to uncover the fundamental causes of lupus. Their research is expected to accelerate the development of novel treatments that prevent, arrest, or cure lupus and its complications.
Lupus is a chronic, complex autoimmune disease that affects millions of people worldwide. More than 90% of people with lupus are women, mostly diagnosed between the ages of 15 to 44. Women of color are especially at risk. In lupus, the immune system, which is designed to protect against infection, creates antibodies that attack the body’s own tissues and organs — the kidneys, brain, heart, lungs, blood, skin, and joints.
About the Lupus Research Alliance
The Lupus Research Alliance leads the quest to free the world from lupus through the power of science. The 501 (c)(3) is the only international private funder devoted to lupus research. The organization propels lupus research in new directions to pursue better treatments while driving to a cure. Because the Lupus Research Alliance Board of Directors funds all administrative and fundraising costs, 100% of all donations goes to support lupus research programs. And with pivotal discoveries, the Lupus Research Alliance is breaking through.