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AAI honors Chen Dong for breakthrough T lymphocyte research
Date:4/16/2009

es, not the typical realm of a basic scientist. "I found papers about arthritis showing that the cytokine IL-17 was highly expressed in the joint tissue of patients," Dong recalled. Some studies indicated IL-17 was produced by a T cell of a type unknown.

Dong returned to his mutant mice and found minimal levels of IL-17. "So we thought maybe IL-17 is more important than interferon-gamma in autoimmune diseases," Dong said. IL-17 also turns out to rely on the ICOS receptor that was missing from the T cells of the mutant mice.

Paper reveals new path to autoimmune and inflammatory diseases

Dong's subsequent major paper in Nature Immunology in November 2005 showed that IL-17-producing T cells are distinct from Th1 or Th2, and they could be generated in mice without any of the cytokines or transcription factors needed for the known T cell helpers. They concluded that IL-17-secreting T cells are a new kind, the same conclusion reached independently by another group in Alabama in the same issue of the journal.

The researchers at M. D. Anderson also showed that lungs become inflamed when IL-17 is overexpressed in their inner lining. Blocking IL-17 in a mouse model of multiple sclerosis greatly reduced the inflammation caused by that autoimmune disease.

This influential paper helped jump-start a new era in T cell biology and has been cited by other scientists 540 times.

Dong and colleagues have continued to publish on Th17 cells, now regarded as one of the hottest areas of biological research. Their 2007 paper in Nature elucidated IL-21, another cytokine produced by Th17 cells, in self-propagation of these cells. They also demonstrated the transcriptional regulation of Th17 development, function of Th17 cytokines, environmental regulation of Th17 function and the cell's significant plasticity.

Dong and two other scientists recently organized the first international Keystone Symposium on Th17 cells. Keystone S
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Contact: Scott Merville
smerville@mdanderson.org
713-516-4855
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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AAI honors Chen Dong for breakthrough T lymphocyte research
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