Our cells have specialized immune receptors to recognize and respond to viral infections. One of these, MDA5 (melanoma differentiation associated gene 5), recognizes viral RNA and is also important for anti-tumor immune responses. However, improper MDA5 activation is associated with autoimmune diseases such as lupus and Aicardi-Goutieres syndrome (AGS). To define MDA5 activity, Dr. Ahmad is investigating which RNAs turn it on and which don’t. To do so, he’s developed a novel way to test how well different RNAs bind to and stimulate MDA5. By identifying the RNAs responsible for autoimmunity and those that could enhance anti-cancer immune responses, approaches could then be developed to turn MDA5 off (to limit autoimmunity) and on (to promote anti-cancer responses) in different contexts to help multiple patient populations.
Projects and Grants
Non-canonical activation of the innate immune receptor MDA5 in immune disorder and cancer therapy
Boston Children’s Hospital | All Cancers, Childhood Cancer | 2017 | Sun Hur, Ph.D.
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