Mark Walter, Ph.D., professor of microbiology at UAB, has been awarded a $300,000 grant from the Lupus Research Institute, one of 12 awarded this year. With this research, Walter will be researching type 1 interferon molecules responsible for the overactive immune response in lupus that causes damage to tissue and organs.
People with lupus produce large amounts of type 1 interferons (IFN?s), a family of 12 protein molecules that prompts the body to attack itself and damage otherwise healthy tissue and organs. While blocking IFN? can apparently reduce lupus symptomsâ€”and is being tested in clinical trialsâ€”itâ€™s unclear exactly which in the family of IFN? molecules is/are responsible for lupus complications.
With this funding, Walter will harness a novel combination of technologies to directly examine human lupus samples and identify the responsible interferon molecules. If successful, his research will open the door to more precisely targeting anti-IFN therapies in lupus and sparing patients unnecessary drug treatment.