Immunotargeting of T Follicular Helper (Tfh) Cells for SLE Treatment
Dr. Ballesteros-Tato is exploring an important interaction between two different cell types of the immune system as a new avenue for targeted drug development in lupus. Specialized immune cells—T follicular helper (Tfh) cells—act as a support system to aid and nurture the B cells, a cell type that produce self-damaging antibodies. It is these antibodies that attack the bodies of people with lupus, damaging their kidneys, brain, skin, and other organs. Dr. Ballesteros-Tato will use his Novel Research Grant to look for ways to selectively eliminate Tfh cells without knocking out other types of T cells that are part of a healthy immune system. He expects that such a treatment would, in turn, power down lupus-related B cells and block disease progression.
What this study means for people with lupus
Currently, no treatments can break the bond between Tfh cells and B cells in people with lupus. Dr. Ballesteros-Tato’s research focuses on this interesting pathway and may lead to innovative directions for the development of new drugs that can add to the therapy arsenal for people with lupus.