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Guo-Ping Shi, DSc

Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Cathepsin S Inhibitor-Modified Treg Cells Mitigate Murine SLE

Regulatory T cells serve as the immune system’s dimmer switch, turning down attacks by immune cells. One factor causing regulatory T cells to fail in lupus patients might be the protein cathepsin S. This protein switches on another protein, known as toll-like receptor 7, that curbs the body’s production of regulatory T cells and prevents them from inhibiting the immune system. Dr. Shi will test whether blocking cathepsin S reduces lupus symptoms in mice by increasing the lifespan of regulatory T cells and boosting their ability to rein in the immune system. If the study is successful, it might be possible to block cathepsin S in regulatory T cells and then use the cells to treat lupus patients.


What this study means to people with lupus

Particular T cells normally keep the immune system under tight control, but they malfunction in lupus, permitting other immune cells to attack patients’ tissues. Dr. Shi and his colleagues are investigating the enzyme Cathepsin S in controlling these regulatory T cells, to restore their ability to control other defensive cells. Testing in human cells, Dr. Shi’s novel and important study has the potential to lead to the development of a novel therapy to prevent and treat lupus.

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