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Kevin Nickerson, PhD

Research Assistant Professor
University of Pittsburgh

Age-Associated B cells in Autoimmune Lupus

While lupus and aging seem very different, they have one thing in common. Cells called age-associated B cells are prevalent in older people and people of any age who have lupus. Age-associated B cells may be the ancestors of the B cells that damage patients’ tissues in lupus. Dr. Nickerson and his group will track how these cells form and how they are related to other types of B cells. They will also see if removing the cells prevents mice from developing lupus. Their results could indicate whether developing drugs to destroy these cells may work for people with lupus.

What this study means for patients
Immune cells known as B cells protect us from infections, but in lupus they begin destroying patients’ tissues. Dr. Nickerson and his team are testing if these destructive B cells descend from a group of B cells known as age-associated B cells that build up as we get older. Understanding where harmful B cells come from will help researchers produce new therapies that eliminate them.

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