The dream of biomedical researchers is to fine-tune their therapeutics to precisely target the specific illness or pathogen affecting their patient. Ever since Nobel laureate and oft-quoted father of immunology, Paul Ehrlich, coined the term “magic bullet,” medical science has marched towards more personalized drugs that target key molecules that cause diseases including cancer. 1 We find ourselves now, over a century later, in an exciting era of discovery that has produced many antibody drug conjugates (ADC) designed to precisely target the diseased cells and not healthy cells. ADC uses this strategy to take advantage of the specificity of antibodies while delivering a covalently linked cytotoxic payload directly to diseased tissues to reduce the multitudes of side effects and toxicity. 2, 3 As basic research identifies more targets and antibody engineering procedures improve, the range of antitumor and anti-disease weapons may seem limitless.
As science advances, one of the recent trends that continues to pay dividends is immunotherapy to fight cancers. In many cases, the strategy is to mobilize the immune system to attack tumor cells based on cancer-specific antigens expressed either by the tumor itself or within the tumor microenvironment, either by stimulating normal immune cell function to their new tumor target or by removing the suppression of the immune system that is characteristic of many cancers. The trick is to find a way to attack only the tumor and not normal tissues, and certainly not to somehow trigger autoimmunity.
Remember once upon a time when I said my first actual laboratory research project involved myelin basic protein? Other than knowing that the mother of one of my high school friends had been diagnosed with it, this was the first real exposure I had with multiple sclerosis. I eventually learned more about the immune system and autoimmunity, and the thought of your own body attacking your literal nerve cells was scary and made me feel for the people who have to live with and manage this disease every day. March happens to be Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month, which as the name suggests works to make sure the public knows about multiple sclerosis, develops empathy and understanding for afflicted individuals, and encourages participation in events and activities to spread awareness. In this blog, let's explore the disease, current treatment strategies and ongoing research, and ways that you can help both in and out of the lab.
What is STAT5B?
STAT5B belongs to the STAT (signal transducer and activator of transcription) protein family, a group of latent cytosolic transcription factors activated by Janus kinase (JAK) tyrosine kinases. The JAK-STAT signaling pathway is responsible for many important biological processes including cell proliferation, differentiation, apoptosis, and is also involved in the modulation of a variety of cytokines to control the immune response.
December is a month of holidays and celebration, but it is also a time to raise awareness for a global epidemic that has lasted over four decades. During World HIV/AIDS Awareness Month, health organizations, including the United States Department of Veteran Affairs, serve to remind everyone about the importance of getting tested, to remember those who succumbed to the disease, and to improve access to advanced therapies.
Since its first identification and description in 1981, medical advances have offered effective therapies to keep the virus at bay, and in some cases even completely cure a patient of the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, and to prevent it from becoming the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS, which is often catastrophic to the patient. Unfortunately, as of 2021 per the World Health Organization (WHO), there are still over 38 million people living with HIV, with approximately 1.5 million new infections and 650,000 HIV-related deaths. Much of this has to do with lack of education or proper infrastructure and often obstacles to accessibility for treatment and prevention. I hope to explore HIV with you during this month of awareness so we can do our part to mitigate this persistent epidemic.