A grant from the Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research (FSR) will fund the development of a new mouse model of sarcoidosis, which could aid in understanding how the disease develops and ultimately serve as a platform for testing potential treatments.
The FSR’s Small Grant program provides up to $25,000 in support for smaller scale or preliminary research projects in the field of sarcoidosis.
The most recent recipient of the FSR Small Grant is Umesh S. Deshmukh, PhD, a researcher at Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, for a project that plans to develop a humanized mouse model of sarcoidosis.
Sarcoidosis is characterized by an overactive immune system, which leads to the formation of granulomas, which are small clumps of inflammatory cells that can impair tissue and organ function over time. Although granulomas are the hallmark of sarcoidosis, little is known about how these clumps form or progress.
The new project will seek to create a mouse model of sarcoidosis to help address these questions. More specifically, the intention is to create a humanized mouse model — an animal model that more closely mimics human disease, usually by incorporating human tissue into the mice.
In this case, Deshmukh and colleagues will put immune cells from human sarcoidosis patients into mice that have no immune system — essentially giving these mice a human immune system that has sarcoidosis. Since there are many differences between mouse and human immune systems, this humanized model is expected to more closely resemble human disease than would a model that relied entirely on mice.
“We will construct humanized mice by putting white blood cells from sarcoidosis patients into severely immunocompromised mice. This methodology will allow the human cells to grow and establish a human immune system in the mice,”
The FSR funding will facilitate the use of advanced technologies — including laser capture microscopy and spatial transcriptomics — to understand how exposure to environmental factors, such as fungi and mold, cause granulomas to form in the lungs.
Deshmukh and colleagues’ studies aim to define the biological pathways and mechanisms that directly contribute to the formation and progression of sarcoidosis.
“We strongly believe that understanding these underlying mechanisms holds the keys to developing novel therapeutic strategies to treat sarcoidosis,”
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