Genetic Studies Illuminate Neuronal Chemical’s Role in Pain and Itch
Thursday, October 29, 2020
For most of us, itch is a bothersome inconvenience. Unfortunately, for 125 million people around the world, chronic itch caused by the skin disease psoriasis is a significant, even debilitating, health problem. Psoriasis causes skin cells to multiply up to 10 times faster than normal and build up as an itchy and painful, scaly rash. For some, the condition can also cause joint swelling, resulting in a condition known as ‘psoriatic arthritis.’
World Psoriasis Day falls on October 29 this year, and the theme is “Be Informed.” So, what do we know about chronic itch?
Mouse Study Suggests Common Fungus Could Worsen Respiratory Infections
Tuesday, September 29, 2020
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, both scientists and the media have focused on the factors that influence who experiences mild symptoms or none at all and who faces potentially life-threatening consequences from the disease. Other respiratory viruses like the flu also have widely varying effects on different patients. New IRP research has found that exposure to a common variety of mold primes the immune system to overreact to the flu virus, dramatically increasing the illness’s severity.
IRP Investigators Begin Hundreds of New Coronavirus-Related Studies
Monday, June 15, 2020
Within just a few months after COVID-19 began spreading in the United States, IRP researchers had already made numerous important contributions to the fight against the deadly virus. Scientific knowledge about the disease continues to expand at a unprecedented pace, and the IRP will continue to play a major role in this effort over the coming months and years. In fact, nearly 300 new intramural research projects related to the novel coronavirus are currently starting up or have already begun.
Four Questions with Dr. Niki Moutsopoulos
Friday, March 20, 2020
Our mouths are teeming with bacteria, a microbial ecosystem known as the oral microbiome. While these microbes are typically benign, under certain circumstances they can turn harmful and contribute to oral diseases such as periodontitis, a form of chronic gum disease characterized by microbe-driven inflammation of the soft tissues and bone that support our teeth. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), roughly 65 million Americans aged 30 or older have some degree of periodontitis. In its early stage, known as gingivitis, the gums become swollen and red due to inflammation, which is the body’s natural response to the presence of bacteria. If the condition worsens, it can lead to loose teeth and, eventually, bone or tooth loss.
NIH senior investigator Niki Moutsopoulos, Ph.D., head of the Oral Immunity and Inflammation Section at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), studies periodontitis and aims to understand the immune system’s role in driving this destruction. In a 2018 study, she and her team of IRP researchers and outside collaborators discovered that an abnormal and unhealthy population of microbes in the mouth causes specialized immune cells, known as T helper 17 (Th17) cells, to trigger inflammation and destroy tissue, leading to periodontitis.
Five Questions with Dr. Nehal Mehta
Thursday, August 29, 2019
Most Americans know someone who has been affected by heart disease. Despite its status as the leading cause of death in the U.S. today, rates of heart disease have actually been steadily falling since they hit their peak in 1968. In fact, between 1970 and 2005, the life expectancy of the average American increased over 70 percent due in part to reductions in heart disease-related deaths.
Research conducted by IRP scientists has played a key role in curbing the heart disease epidemic by helping identify now well-known risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure, obesity, and physical inactivity. However, not all risk factors are so commonly known. A 2017 study by IRP Lasker Clinical Research Scholar Nehal Mehta, M.D., M.S.C.E., revealed that untreated psoriasis — a chronic, relapsing, inflammatory skin disease — is linked to an elevated risk for premature coronary artery disease. Dr. Mehta’s research demonstrated a strong link between psoriasis-induced skin inflammation and and inflammation of the blood vessels, a precursor to heart disease. Through this study, the largest ongoing study of individuals with psoriasis to-date, Dr. Mehta’s team has concluded that controlling psoriasis-associated skin disease could be an important means of reducing cardiac risk in this population.
Discovery Could Improve Therapy for Multiple Autoimmune Diseases
Tuesday, August 20, 2019
Hiding among YouTube’s vast collection of cooking demos and funny cat videos are clips of patients and their advocates designed to raise awareness of specific diseases. It was just such a video that led IRP Senior Investigator Peter Grayson, M.D., M.Sc., to begin studying an extremely rare illness called deficiency of adenosine deaminase 2, or DADA2 for short. The recently published findings of that research could help improve treatment not just for patients with DADA2 but also many more individuals with similar ailments.
New Insights Could Help Reduce Premature Births
Tuesday, May 28, 2019
Any baby born less than 37 weeks after conception is considered premature, but not all premature births have the same root cause. In a new study, IRP researchers have detailed how a particular component of the immune system can trigger premature labor, which could help doctors prevent more preterm births.
Drug Candidate Calms Overzealous Immune Response in the Eye
Tuesday, April 30, 2019
Our immune cells don’t like strangers and attack many organisms and substances that they have never seen before, including harmless ones. In autoimmune diseases, this reaction gets out of hand and our own cells are caught in the crossfire. IRP scientists have found that a new therapeutic compound can curb this sort of autoimmune carnage in the eye.
Discovery Could Lead to New Approaches for Boosting Blood Cell Counts
Tuesday, March 19, 2019
Much of human biology is a black box — scientists know the key players and the end results, but not how those outcomes come about. Consequently, it remains a mystery why some medications help patients. A new IRP study has cracked open the black box to reveal how high levels of an inflammatory molecule inhibit blood cell production in some individuals and why a particular medicine helps reverse this life-threatening condition.
Thursday, February 28, 2019
The NIH’s main campus in Bethesda, Maryland, may have the look and feel of a university campus, but the world-renowned research institution does not grant credentials like an M.D. or Ph.D. Instead, the Graduate Partnerships Program offers graduate students from schools around the world the opportunity to complete research for their Ph.D. dissertations in IRP labs while pursuing advanced degrees from their ‘host’ institutions.