Amanda Poholek, assistant professor in the departments of pediatrics and immunology at Pitt School of Medicine, was awarded a $40,000 Biomedical Research Grant from the American Lung Association to study the causes of allergic asthma, a chronic lung disease that occurs in response to allergens in the environment. There is no cure, and current therapies treat symptoms rather than causes.
Asthma is mediated in part by the inappropriate activation of T cells, a vital component of the immune system. Poholek’s research is focused on a protein called Blimp-1 whose presence in T cells has been shown to drive allergic airway inflammation in experimental models. “We expect these studies to identify potential drug targets for specific therapies that would treat the causes of asthma, rather than symptoms,” she said.