2019 Gina M. Finzi Memorial Student Fellow
Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Study Title: Ptprz: Impact on Tubules and Macrophage Mediated Lupus
Mentor: Vicki Rubin Kelley, Ph.D Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
About the Researcher
Chen is an undergraduate student at Boston University studying biology with a specialization in cell molecular biology and genetics. In 2018, Chen starting conducting lupus research at the Kelley Lab of Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Renal Division.
How will your Lupus Foundation of America Grant help advance your research career?
“My project investigates a candidate protein receptor that potentially plays a critical role in inducing kidney inflammation and scarring as a result of lupus nephritis. If significant in mediating lupus nephritis, it can be a potential therapeutic target. As 10-30% of lupus nephritis patients develop end stage renal disease, it is crucial to identify new therapeutics that can alleviate the effects of lupus nephritis with minimal side effects.”
Summary from Chen’s Research Proposal
Lupus nephritis results in severe damage to kidneys that render them unable to properly filter fluids. 10-30% of lupus nephritis patients develop end stage renal disease, which results in kidney failure. If a patient’s kidneys fail, they will need expensive treatments, such as a kidney transplant or dialysis. Although treatments are available, many have severe side effects that include increased risk of heart problems, cancer, and infections. It is crucial to identify new therapeutics that can alleviate the effects of lupus nephritis with minimal side effects. One of the predictors of clinical outcomes of lupus nephritis is kidney inflammation and scarring. Previous research shows that accumulation of white blood cells in the kidney causes inflammation, which leads to kidney scarring. These processes damage kidney function and results in chronic kidney disease during lupus nephritis. Our research study investigates a novel protein receptor found on both white blood cells and kidney cells. We hypothesize that kidney cells and white blood cells expressing this protein receptor recruit inflammatory molecules to the kidney that promote kidney damage. In our experiments, we will grow kidney cells and white blood cells that express the candidate protein receptor. By analyzing the cells, we can determine whether the candidate protein receptor generates specific molecules that cause kidney inflammation and scarring. We will also grow kidney and white blood cells with immature cells that can transform into kidney scarring cells. We will examine whether the molecules generated by the candidate protein receptor triggers the immature cells to transform into kidney scarring cells. If our results show that the candidate protein receptor plays a critical role in inducing kidney inflammation and scarring, then it is likely a potential therapeutic target for lupus nephritis.
For more information on Lupus Foundation on America’s granted research, please contact Ashley Marion at [email protected]