Keri Csencsits Smith, PhD, University of Texas

"Covalent Reactive Antigen Probes to Bind Autoreactive Antibodies and Suppress B Cells in Lupus"

2006 Novel Pilot Projects Program

One strategy to treating autoimmune diseases is to understand a lot about the molecular structures that recognize targets, and look for ways to "undo" the process of recognition and immune activation when the target is not an invader we should be fighting. The process of undoing a problematic immune response is called “tolerizing the body,” or making it more tolerant. This study has taken some of the insights about the structures of antibody building blocks to construct some fake targets similar to DNA and a protein called VIP (which stands for vasoactive intestinal peptide). These will be specially constructed to bind irreversibly to the antibodies on B cells without triggering an immune response. This could keep the real target from triggering an immune response. If successful, this kind of approach could stop the part of the immune response that is inducing illness, without compromising the rest of the immune system.