Cuong Nguyen, Ph.D., a research assistant professor in oral biology, recently received notice that the Sjögren’s Syndrome Foundation (SSF) is extending his current research grant for a second year saying his renewal application had “demonstrated clear and significant progress during the first year of his grant.”
The $35,000 grant is in support of his project, “Suppression of TH17 cells using IL-27 gene therapy: A potential therapeutic approach for the treatment of Sjögren’s syndrome.” This study focuses on characterizing the different cell populations within lymphocytic infiltration in salivary glands of Sjögren’s syndrome patients and using gene therapy to down-regulate pathogenic TH17.
As many as four million Americans are living with Sjögren’s syndrome, a chronic autoimmune disease that causes people’s white blood cells to attack their moisture-producing glands. Hallmark symptoms include dry eyes and dry mouth but Sjögren’s can also cause dysfunction of other organs such as the kidneys, gastrointestinal system, blood vessels, lungs, liver, pancreas, and the central nervous system. It is one of the most prevalent autoimmune disorders and 90 percent of the patients are women.
Nguyen joined the college in 2009. He completed his undergraduate studies in Biochemistry at the University of Nebraska and completed his Ph.D. in Immunology and Microbiology in 2006 at the University of Florida.
The lab he works with in the Department of Oral Biology focuses on many aspects of Sjögren’s syndrome including:
- Development of animal models for Sjögren’s syndrome.
- Identify genetic susceptibility region(s) using animal models of Sjögren’s syndrome.
- TH17 cells and its signal transduction in the immune system regulation and function.
- Application of microarray analysis for pathogenesis and biomarkers for autoimmunity.
- Exocrine glands regeneration using stem cells.
- Application of microengraving to identify novel autoantibodies in autoimmune diseases.
- Potential therapeutic approach (i.e. gene therapy) for autoimmune diseases.
For more information about Sjögren’s syndrome, visit www.sjogrens.org