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Scientist discovers new molecular mechanism underlying asthma, COPD

September 29, 2017

In a related finding, published March 14 in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, Dr. Croft also showed a connection between LIGHT and T cell-fueled inflammation that contributes to other aspects of asthmatic disease. "We showed that blocking LIGHT binding to one of its receptors, named the herpesvirus entry mediator, reduced the ability of T lymphocytes, induced with a model allergen, to survive long-term. This strongly curtailed lung inflammation associated with asthma when the allergen was subsequently inhaled," he said. The findings were detailed in a scientific paper entitled, "Herpesvirus entry mediator (TNFRSF14) regulates the persistence of T helper memory cell populations."

Dr. Croft said he is excited about his findings on LIGHT and its impact on both airway remodeling and inflammation in asthma. "Identifying these molecules (LIGHT and its receptors) as regulators of processes associated with several lung diseases may be an important advantage in efforts to develop new and better therapies," he said.

LIGHT was initially discovered in 1998 by former La Jolla Institute scientist Carl Ware, Ph.D. The TNF family of molecules has proven to be important players in inflammation-driven autoimmune diseases and is a particular focus of the La Jolla Institute.

"The fact that LIGHT appears to be important in Crohn's disease and colitis, and now may have an indication in asthma, is a continued demonstration of the TNF family's critical role in inflammatory diseases," said Dr. Kronenberg. "We are thrilled that both of these findings originated from our Institute. It is a reflection that our Institute is one of the world's leaders in TNF research, which is a hotbed of therapeutic potential for autoimmune diseases."

Source: La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology