HOUSTON - Back when scientists viewed immune response as an either-or process strictly divided between two pathways, each driven by a separate T helper cell, Chen Dong, Ph.D., and colleagues at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center helped uncover a surprising and pivotal third path launched by a new cell.
To the black-and-white pallet of immune response, Dong added the vital color illustrating the roots of inflammatory diseases, such as asthma, and autoimmune illnesses, such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
His discovery of T helper cell 17 (Th17), its production of the inflammatory molecule interleukin-17 (IL-17), and their central role in both types of disease, helped Dong earn the AAI-BD Biosciences Investigator Award from The American Association of Immunologists (AAI). He will receive the honor and speak at Immunology 2009(tm), the 96th AAI annual meeting May 8-12 in Seattle. AAI is the largest professional association for research immunologists in the world.
The award for outstanding research achievement by an early career scientist is one of the top honors in the field. Dong, a full professor in M. D. Anderson's Department of Immunology and Director of the Center of Inflammation and Cancer, is only 41.
"Dr. Dong's work will have important implications in understanding the pathophysiology of human diseases such as autoimmune disease, allergy, and cancer," said Yong-Jun Liu, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chair of immunology. "He's absolutely a world leader in defining this new effector T cell pathway. He has made a major contribution in defining the molecular mechanism that regulates the pathway, from cytokine receptor signaling to transcription factor regulation."
T helper cells are crucial to the adaptive immune system, which conjures a specific response that builds long-lasting immunity to specific infections. When this system goes haywire and attacks self-tissue, autoimmune d
|Contact: Scott Merville|
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center