UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI
The immune system provides the body’s primary defense against infectious diseases. However, de-regulated immune system can attack healthy cells in many parts of the body rather than pathogens resulting in autoimmune diseases. There are more than 80 types of autoimmune diseases and approximately 23.5 million Americans suffer from these diseases as estimated by NIH. One major component of the immune system that has been found to attack our own body tissues is a specific type of white blood cell called the B lymphocyte. Some very common examples of autoimmune diseases involving B lymphocytes include Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), Lupus, type 1 diabetes (T1D) and Sjogren’s Syndrome. The reasons for deregulated behavior of B lymphocytes remain unclear. The overall goal of this project is to understand how B lymphocytes develop into harmful self-destructive cells. The proposed studies will provide fundamental knowledge about the role of biochemical events within B lymphocytes that are disturbed and may cause their self-destructive behavior and autoimmune diseases. The specific goal of the research proposed is to define a recently discovered self-perpetuating biochemical mechanism that can keep the self-destructive B cells alive. Understanding of these mechanisms will help develop effective therapies for a set of autoimmune diseases.