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Biomedical engineer looks at new applications for novel lupus drug
Date:7/24/2014

Expanding on his work with a new drug that successfully treated lupus in mice, a biomedical engineer at the University of Houston has received a $250,000 grant to expand his research to a new version of the drug in an effort to treat a wider range of autoimmune diseases.

Chandra Mohan, Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Endowed Professor of biomedical Engineering at UH, previously published a study in Arthritis Research & Therapy outlining the use of a new drug that successfully treated lupus in mice and reduced the number of cases of lupus-related kidney disease.

He now has received a $250,000, two-year grant from Pharmacyclics, a biopharmaceutical company, to expand the research to a new version of the drug, using mice with several other autoimmune diseases.

The drug that Mohan and his Pharmacyclics collaborators are focused on targets B cells, key cells in the immune system that lead to the development of lupus. Lupus is an autoimmune disease that develops when a patient's immune B cells begin producing antibodies which mistakenly attack the body's own cells. Although why this happens remains a mystery, Mohan believes that by targeting and silencing these B cells, we may be able to stop or significantly delay the development of lupus in patients who have the disease.

And judging by the results of Mohan's first attempt to study this drug in mouse models, there's good reason to believe he might be on to something. "We found that this drug worked as an inhibitor to a key signaling molecule within B cells," he said. "In mouse models of lupus, we found it to be very effective the mice had less antibodies and less kidney disease."

But misbehaving B cells aren't responsible only for the development of lupus; B cells have been shown to play a role in nearly all autoimmune diseases, from rheumatoid arthritis to celiac disease. Based on the encouraging results from Mohan's first attempt to study this drug in mice models, Mohan said he and his Pharma
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Contact: Jeannie Kever
jekever@uh.edu
713-743-0778
University of Houston
Source:Eurekalert

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