A crystal clear view to treating rheumatoid arthritis
Canada Research Chair Bhushan Nagar is helping make life better for the thousands of Canadians suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriasis and other life-long debilitating diseases.
In these diseases, the body's immune system mistakes healthy tissue for foreign organisms, and attacks-leading to inflamed joints and tissue, disability and severe pain. Using a technique called X-ray crystallography, Nagar is studying the protein receptors responsible for triggering these dangerous immune system responses.
While we know these proteins-called Toll-like receptors (TLRs)-act as first warning systems against infection in healthy people, the mechanisms they use to recognize invaders and signal a response remain largely a mystery. By crystallizing the molecules that make up the protein and then using X-rays to "see" the crystals, Nagar is able to reconstruct 3-D images of the TLRs and analyze their structures.
This research will allow Nagar to uncover not only how TLRs function normally, but also how they can be modulated for the development of drugs to treat and prevent the debilitating inflammation associated with certain infectious diseases and autoimmune disorders.