A major focus of the laboratory relates to the study of the immunology of multiple sclerosis and the EAE animal model of MS.
- MS Immunoregulation (Tregs/Th17) and innate immunity. We are investigating basic immune function in MS that involves the characterization of TH17 cells, regulatory T cells, monocytes, B cells, and dendritic cells. These studies involve a functional studies and detailed profiling of these subsets in patients with MS.
- MS biomarkers. We have had a long-term program to develop blood biomarkers for MS and to link them to disease stage and response to therapy. A major resource for our biomarker program is the CLIMB observational study in patients with MS. The CLIMB study begun in 2000 and we currently follow over 2000 patients with yearly exams, MRI imaging and blood collection. We are also now beginning to collect urine and stool samples. The CLIMB biorepository and cohort serves as an outstanding source to study and develop MS biomarkers. We are currently focusing on antigen arrays, microRNAs (serum and cells), and immune cell profiling. In addition, we are actively studying the gut microbiota in MS.
- Experimental Allergic Encephalomyelitis (EAE): EAE serves as the animal model for MS. We investigate both the classic relapsing model and the role of Th17/Th1 and Treg cells and a newly developed chronic model that is driven by the innate immune system. There are many drugs for the treatment of inflammatory stages of MS but no treatment and a poor understanding of progressive MS. Our studies in the progressive EAE model involve the role of microglial cells, astrocytes, lipids and the modulation of the progressive model by nasal induction of regulatory T cells. We hope that understanding basic mechanisms in the NOD model will provide a basis for developing new targets of therapy.
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