Our Bimal Desai, PhD, has discovered an electrical switch within a certain type of immune cell that could let us treat inflammatory diseases including inflammation of the brain, as seen in Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s, for the first time.
What he found was that this switch, called an ion channel, controls the flow of calcium into immune cells called macrophages. Block the calcium entering through this ion channel and you can stop the inflammation. This could be useful not just against inflammation such as seen in arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease but also chronic inflammation seen in cardiovascular diseases and in the brain, where most biological drugs can’t reach.
His team was able to make this discovery because of something rather rare in immunology labs: the additional ability to do both electrophysiology – the study of the flow of electrical currents in cells and tissues – and calcium imaging in living cells.
“Both techniques are fairly sophisticated and require a great deal of experience to do right,” said Dr. Desai, of the Department of Pharmacology. “You are dealing with complex equipment, you have to have a good understanding of imaging, optics and biophysics. The training required is in order of years and it requires a significant amount of time to get good at it. The physical setup is not easily established, so if an immunologist comes across an ion channel in their area of disease they’re interested in, they can’t just say, ‘OK, we’ll start doing that in the lab.’ That depth of technical talent is a big help when it comes to research like this.”
Because Dr. Desai’s lab can do both electrophysiology and calcium imaging in immune cells, he gets requests from immunologists all over – so many he can’t keep up. “These are skill sets that are now heavily courted throughout the nation” he said.
He noted that there is a shortage of expertise in electrophysiology in general. UVA is fortunate to have several expert electrophysiologists, such as Douglas Bayliss and Julius Zhu, two outstanding neuroscientists in the Department of Pharmacology.
We’re lucky to have such technical abilities, and we’re also lucky to have great expertise in the white-hot field of neuroimmunology, which studies the interaction of the nervous system and the immune system. You may recall that our Dr. Jonathan Kipnis, PhD, made the astounding discovery that the brain is connected to the immune system by vessels long thought not to exist.
“UVA is very strong in neuroimmunology, with Dr. Kipnis and BIG [our Center for Brain Immunology and Glia],” Desai said. “So I think we sit at a great juncture in history where we have the right technical expertise to move forward but also an environment here to do ground-breaking neuroimmunology that is tremendously strong.”
The Latest on: Inflammation
- The inflammation-busting ACV tonic Massy Arias blends up in the mornings on November 12, 2018 at 12:57 pm
Doing your skin-care regimen twice a day—once in the morning and once before bed—is pretty standard. But having a regular workout routine shakes everything up and adds more to the equation. After swea... […]
- Subclinical Heart Inflammation Seen in RA on November 12, 2018 at 10:36 am
A study using 18-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography-computed tomography (FDG PET-CT) found that rheumatoid arthritis (RA) disease activity was correlated with more myocardial inflammation ... […]
- New Findings from Pluristem’s Phase II IC study: PLX-PAD Cells Significantly Improves Blood Glucose Control (HbA1c) and Reduce Chronic Inflammation on November 12, 2018 at 3:30 am
Additional analysis of the Phase II IC data confirmed the optimal dosing regimen of PLX-PAD in the treatment of peripheral arterial diseases (PAD) - two administrations of 300 million cells, each orig... […]
- AHA: Targeting Inflammation With Methotrexate Flops for CV Prevention on November 10, 2018 at 2:04 pm
CHICAGO -- Low-dose methotrexate given to reduce inflammation had no impact on cardiovascular events in high-risk but stable atherosclerosis, the CIRT randomized trial showed. A weekly dose of 15 to 2... […]
- Generic arthritis drug comes up short against inflammation in heart disease on November 10, 2018 at 1:51 pm
Giving a generic anti-inflammatory drug widely used to treat rheumatoid arthritis to people who previously had a heart attack or stroke worked no better than placebo in preventing another cardiovascul... […]
- Inflammation Marker Prognostic in DLBCL on November 8, 2018 at 2:17 pm
Higher rates of the inflammation marker erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) was associated with several unfavorable characteristics of and worse survival from diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), a... […]
- What fights inflammation, boosts collagen, and relieves pain? Echinacea—and that’s only half its health benefits on November 7, 2018 at 11:25 pm
There are so many supplements that you could be taking at any given time—for your skin, for your hair, for your bloat, or even for better sleep, that it can become confusing to remember which does wha... […]
- Inflammation Can Steal Your Sleep on November 7, 2018 at 1:31 pm
The circadian rhythm, the body’s natural time-keeper, when kept in good working order can help to sustain a healthy state. When the circadian rhythm is altered any of the many contributing factors, th... […]
- How Reducing Inflammation Can Help Manage Psoriasis on November 7, 2018 at 8:03 am
Although the exact cause of psoriasis is still a matter of debate in the medical world, a theory that’s backed up by an ever-increasing amount of research is that inflammation in the body can lead to ... […]
- The Daily Biotech Pulse: EyePoint Licenses Eye Inflammation Drug, Insys Strategic Review Of Opioid Assets, Neos Offering on November 6, 2018 at 4:04 am
Here's a roundup of top developments in the biotech space over the last 24 hours. Scaling The Peak (Biotech stocks hitting 52-week highs on Nov. 5) Allakos Inc (NASDAQ: ALLK) Allogene Therapeutics Inc ... […]
via Google News and Bing News