Better understanding the complexities of how the human body protects itself against infection is one goal of research now being conducted at the Whiddon College of Medicine. The National Institutes …
Better understanding the complexities of how the human body protects itself against infection is one goal of research now being conducted at the Whiddon College of Medicine.
The National Institutes of Health awarded a two-year, $423,500 grant to USA scientists to conduct research on the amyloid precursor protein and its role in activating neutrophils to protect against bacterial infections.
Principal investigators for the research are Jonathon P. Audia, Ph.D., a professor of microbiology and immunology; and Robert A. Barrington, Ph.D., an associate professor of microbiology and immunology.
The amyloid precursor protein (APP) is best known for producing amyloid-beta, a key pathogenic molecule implicated in the development of Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. However, there have been relatively few studies on the normal biological functions of APP, noted Audia.
Recent evidence suggests that the amyloid precursor protein functions as part of the innate immune response to infection. USA scientists Audia and Barrington said they have made the exciting discovery that APP plays an important role in directing the neutrophils during bacterial pneumonia using their established model of Pseudomonas aeruginosa-induced lung injury.
"This new line of work for the group was developed in large part due to the Whiddon COM's Intramural Grants Program," Audia said, "and will further our understanding of how we defend ourselves against infections."
Additionally, this research has the potential to cast light on mechanisms underlying the long-term health problems faced by patients' post-recovery from intensive care unit stays.
Established in 2017, the Intramural Grants Program supports basic, clinical and translational research through an annual competition for faculty members in the Whiddon College of Medicine. The program provides seed funding to develop innovative projects that are conceptually new or to obtain critical preliminary data to strengthen revised grants submissions. Each year, the Whiddon College of Medicine commits up to $250,000 to this program.
Audia said he and his colleagues are excited about the new project "to understand the role of the amyloid precursor protein in neutrophil-mediated defense against invading pathogens."