Antibody Therapeutics -- Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) that protect against toxins, or protective mAbs, have proven to be useful agents for treating infectious diseases caused by toxins in one’s system. Paradoxically, most of the antibodies that are generated to fight toxins are non-protective in nature. In seeking greater understanding of this role about which very little is known, researchers led by graduate student Siu-Kei Chow and his mentor Dr. Arturo Casadevall have shown that, compared to protective mAb treatment alone, a combination of protective and non-protective mAbs against anthrax toxin protective antigen (PA) leads to synergistic protection in mice challenged with anthrax toxin. The enhanced defense is driven by the formation of PA complexes that contain both types of antibodies, which results from the ability of each arm of the mAbs to bind to different targets. Through the demonstration of the protective potential of these mAbs, researchers may have promising new possibilities for antibody-based therapeutic study. The findings appear in the April 17 issue of Cell Host & Microbe. Dr. Casadevall is professor and chair of and microbiology & Immunology, as well as professor of medicine (infectious diseases). He also holds the Leo and Julia Forchheimer Chair in Mic
Cellular Cleaning to Fight Aging— The National Institute on Aging has awarded Dr. Ana Maria Cuervo a renewal grant of $2.1 million over five years, to continue studying the contribution of chaperone-mediated autophagy (CMA) to characteristics of aging. CMA is the process by which specific proteins within cells are targeted and broken downin lysosomes. Dr. Cuervo has previously found that CMA activity decreases with age and that its restoration in aged rodents both prevents organ deterioration and preserves function. The grant will support her efforts to better understand why and how CMA fails in aged individuals, as well as the associated consequences in various organs. CMA is a critical facet of cellular quality control and the knowledge gained from these studies will be used to identify new approaches to correct CMA defects and to treat or delay onset of age-related diseases. Dr. Cuervo is professor of developmental and molecular biology, of anatomy and structural biology, and of medicine, and is co-director of the Einstein Institute for Aging Research. She also is the Robert and Renee Belfer Chair for the Study of Neurodegenerative Diseases.
Looking at Liver Functions — The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders has awarded Drs. Allan Wolkoff and Ana Maria Cuervo $2.9 million over four years to study two processes, endocytosis and autophagy, which are fundamental to the health of liver cells. Endocytosis (how cells engulf material) and autophagy (how cells eliminate internal toxic products) are related events that involve containment of material within similar internal compartments and play critical roles in protein breakdown. Drs. Wolkoff and Cuervo will study these pathways and how they interact to contribute to the maintenance of optimal health in liver cells. Dysfunction in these two pathways is associated with a variety of human diseases and these studies will provide fundamental knowledge that may suggest therapeutic targets for restoring normal liver function or for slowing decline in related liver diseases. Dr. Wolkoff is professor of medicine and of anatomy and structural biology, director of the Marion Bessin Liver Research Center and chief of the division of gastroenterology and liver diseases in medicine. He also holds the Herman Lopata Chair in Liver Disease Research. Dr. Cuervo is professor of developmental and molecular biology, of anatomy and structural biology and of medicine, and is co-director of the Einstein Institute for Aging Research. She also is the Robert and Renee Belfer Chair for the Study of Neurodegenerative Diseases.