Dr. Amy Lovett-Racke (Associate Professor, Microbial Infection and Immunity) was recently awarded a R21 grant for $419,375 entitled “Role of dysregulated miRNA in Tregs in multiple sclerosis” from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease that can result in severe neurological deficits, affecting over 400,000 people in the USA. The cause of the disease is unknown, the mechanisms that underlie the pathology are poorly understood, and treatments are only partially effective at slowing disease progression.
Dr. Lovett-Racke’s laboratory recently found that miRNAs are dysregulated in MS patients and may be a susceptibility factor for development of the disease. In the present study, the role of miRNAs in controlling a specific subset of immune cells known as regulatory T cells, an immune cell known to be defective in patients with MS, will be characterized. Since these regulatory T cells balance the function of our immune system against the environment and ourselves, deciphering the role the dysregulated miRNA play in the development and function of these immune cells will shine light on the mechanism underlying this incurable disease and other autoimmune diseases.