Prajwal Gurung, PhD, Assistant Professor in Infectious Diseases, is having a pretty good March. He has just been awarded an Early Career Faculty Travel Grant from the American Association of Immunologists (AAI) to attend the organization’s annual meeting Immunology 2018 in Austin, Texas, in May. These funds are awarded to junior investigators for travel and lodging reimbursements. More than 100 years old, the AAI is “the world’s leading forum for researchers” in immunology, committed to the exchange of information and ideas among scientists from around the world. The AAI publishes both theJournal of Immunology and ImmunoHorizons.
Dr. Gurung also saw the culmination of a long process with a recent publication in the Journal of Experimental Medicine. Representing work Dr. Gurung did before leaving St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the article reveals new insights into mechanisms controlling NOD-like receptor-P3 (NLRP3) inflammasome activation. In particular, the study shows that the enzyme TAK1 plays a central role in regulation of immune response and cell death by blocking spontaneous NLRP3 activation.
What is especially notable about this discovery is that TAK1 suppression (genetic ablation or chemical inhibition) specifically induced monocyte death in vitro and in vivo in mice. This suggests that TAK1 suppression may be used as a potential new cancer treatment for myeloid tumors. Dr. Gurung’s former institution explains more here and JEM also published further analysis here.