Natural Development of Foxp3+ T Regulatory Cells (Tregs) Discovered

December 20, 2015

Creation of Tregs with robust suppressor activity presents new approach to immune biotherapies

Rheumatology – January 2016 - View Full PDF

M. Edward Medof, MD

Professor of Medicine and Pathology; Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine

M. Edward Medof, MD, PhD, Professor of Medicine and Pathology, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, specializes in rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and other connective tissue diseases in which the immune system is deregulated. He has been on the UH staff and School of Medicine faculty for over 20 years, serving as an expert on immune diseases for members of the department of Medicine and receiving consults throughout the Midwest and as far away as Alaska.

Dr. Medof was previously at the University of Chicago, where he directed the Rheumatology Clinical Laboratory and directed an outreach program at five community hospitals. He then joined the staff of New York University, continuing clinical rheumatology work at Bellevue Hospital. He developed new ways to complement cascade, one of the key systems of the immune response. He has more than 185 peer-reviewed publications.

Dr. Medof is internationally known for the discovery of the Decay- Accelerating Factor (DAF), a protein present on all cells that functions as a shield to protect self-cells from attack by our own immune system, important for connective tissue disease. Dr. Medof recently discovered how Foxp3+ T regulatory cells (Tregs), master cells that protect us from autoimmunity, naturally develop in the body. Defects in Tregs are present in many autoimmune diseases, and the new knowledge of how to make Tregs is an exciting new approach for immune biotherapies.

Tregs previously have been made artificially, ex vivo, by taking the CD4+ subset of T cells and incubating it with a cytokine called transforming growth factor TGF-beta.  But cells produced in this way are not stable and possess poor suppressor activity. Dr. Medof’s laboratory has learned how to make tregs that possess robust suppressor activity from patients with autoimmune disease and that can be given back to patients to shut down their autoimmunity naturally. This research was published in February 2013; the work was funded by grants from the NIH, the Department of Defense and the National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society. A similar protocol is in progress for lupus. 

All National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding for basic and clinical research is awarded to the School of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University.



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