Investigating how anti-inflammatory molecules are switched on in white blood cells

Disease - Rheumatoid arthritis

Lead applicant - Professor Claudia Mauri

Organisation - University College London

Type of grant - PhD Scholarship

Status of grant - Active

Amount of the original award - £154,946.56

Start date - 1 October 2016

Reference - 21257

Public Summary

What are the aims of this research?

The aim of this research is to discover whether a molecule within white blood cells is key to activating the cells to produce anti-inflammatory chemicals.

Why is this research important?

A type of white blood cell called B-regs help to protect and regulate the immune system by producing molecules that act against harmful immune cells. One way in which they do this is by producing an anti-inflammatory molecule that reduces swelling, called interleukin-10.

Previous research has shown that production of interleukin-10 may be switched on by another molecule called Aryl-hydrocarbon-Receptor, which is found in high quantities in B-reg cells. In people with inflammatory arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, B-regs don't work properly resulting in reduced levels of interleukin-10 and contributing to the swelling surrounding the joints.

Understanding the role of Aryl-hydrocarbon-Receptor may therefore be key to discovering how B-regs reduce inflammation.

How will the findings benefit patients?

If the Aryl-hydrocarbon-Receptor molecule is found to directly control the release of anti-inflammatory chemicals from B-regs, it may be possible to target this molecule to develop new therapies to reduce swelling in arthritis.