Gurung receives developmental grant to explore mechanisms in rare skin disorders

Prajwal Gurung, PhD, assistant professor in Infectious Diseases, has received a $250,000 two-year R21 from the National Institutes of Health. Gurung will study a spectrum of rare skin disorders known as neutrophilic dermatosis, which are visually diagnosed by skin lesions filled with neutrophils.

“The treatment options for these rare diseases are limited to the use of strong immunosuppressives, which are non-specific and have adverse side effects,” Gurung said. “Thus, specific novel therapeutic targets are much needed to help patients suffering from these disorders.”

Mutation in the Ptpn6 gene in mice that creates an amino acid substitution in an encoded PTPN6 protein, known as SHP1, provokes inflammation similar to neutrophilic dermatosis. Gurung refers to these mutated mice as Ptpn6spin mice.

“We have extensively studied Ptpn6spin mice and identified several novel therapeutic targets including IL-1 alpha, RIPK1, SYK, and TAK1 that can be potentially beneficial to neutrophilic dermatosis patients,” Gurung said.

Gurung and his team have determined that an integrin-associated protein, CD47, plays a crucial part in regulating disease in the Ptpn6spin mice, but his team will work to further reveal the cellular and molecular mechanisms CD47 performs, particularly its crosstalk with SHP1, to regulate the mice’s inflammatory response to disease.

“Understanding the cellular and molecular basis of these pathologies will not only enhance our general understanding of CD47 and SHP1 biology, but also aid in the development of potential novel therapies for inflammation and cancer,” Gurung said.

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