MDA has awarded a development grant totaling $180,000 over a period of three years to Junping Xin, research associate at the Neuroscience Institute, Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago, and Edward Hines Jr. Veterans Administration Hospital in Hines, Ill. The funds will help support Xin’s research into the possible effects of immune system dysfunction in ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease).
In particular, Xin plans to study a specific type of immune system cell called the CD4+ T cell, which when dysregulated may lead to increased disease-related inflammation in people with ALS. It’s also known, however, that CD4+ T cells play an important role in supporting motor neuron survival.
Xin, and colleagues, plan to elucidate the mechanisms of the CD4+ T cell-mediated neuroprotection as well as the effects that result when the cells become dysfunctional.
A better understanding of both the normal and dysfunctional roles of CD4+ T cells should provide a better understanding of their possible use in new experimental therapies to treat ALS.
“MDA funding is critical to my being able to investigate these questions,” Xin said. “This grant funding will provide me with the chance to not only help people with ALS, but to develop an independent career in research medicine.”
Funding for this MDA grant began August 1, 2011.