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Frances E. Lund, PhD

Charles H. McCauley Professor and Chair,
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Department of Microbiology

Characterization of Chemokine Producing Effector B Cells in SLE

B cells of the immune system make antibodies that are essential for the body’s defense against infectious diseases; yet, in autoimmune diseases like lupus, some B cells mistakenly go on the offense and attack the body itself instead of focusing on taking out bacteria or viruses. Dr. Lund’s ultimate goal is to improve on existing therapies that remove all B cells from a person’s immune system—such therapies treat autoimmunity but also leave patients vulnerable to new infections. With her Novel Research Grant, Dr. Lund is learning as much as she can about a unique population of B cells found in some people with lupus, but not in people without lupus. These cells (“T-bethi B cells”) have high levels of a gene-controller protein called T-bet. Understanding how these particular B cells are different could reveal new targets for safer drug therapy in lupus.

What this study means for people with lupus

By fully characterizing a specific type of B cell found in some people with lupus, Dr. Lund’s research paves the way for developing better, targeted therapies that specifically block the B cells that make lupus-related antibodies without affecting B cells that produce antibodies to fight infections.

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