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Michael Waterfield, MD, PhD

Assistant Professor
University of California, San Francisco (Contracts & Grants)

Epigenetic Regulation of Il2 by ATF7ip – Implications for SLE

Interleukin-2, which is mostly made by the immune cells called T cells, seems to calm the immune system and has shown promise as a lupus treatment. We have discovered in mice that another protein known as ATF7ip reduces T cells’ production of interleukin-2. Dr. Waterfield’s new study will identify molecules that partner with ATF7ip in T cells, which could lead to drugs that block this protein and spur cells to make more interleukin-2. In the second part of their study, they will genetically modify the T cells of mice with lupus to remove ATF7ip. If symptoms improve, they will know that targeting this protein can offer a new treatment strategy for patients with lupus.

What this study means for patients
Some immune cells in patients with lupus mistakenly attack their own tissues. But other cells release a chemical called interleukin-2 that stops these attacks. Dr. Waterfield and his colleagues are investigating a new way to boost cells’ production of interleukin-2. Their results could help researchers create new drugs to treat lupus by raising interleukin-2 levels.

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