Where Do T Cells Get Their Energy?
MS happens when T cells, which are supposed to fight off infections, get confused and start attacking the nervous system. Dr. Yuzefpolskiy first became fascinated with T cells as an undergraduate.
“It blew my mind that T cells divide up to four times per day. The speed of that process would drain all the energy from most cells,” he says. “I started wondering ‘how much do T cells have to eat to keep up, and I’ve been curious about T cell metabolism ever since.”
In this study, he’ll zero in on the metabolisms of T cells and B cells in a model of MS.
“One of the interesting things about MS is that a B cell targeting therapy can be very effective, but T cells actually drive the disease,” Dr. Yuzefpolskiy says. “There has to be some interaction between these types of cells, and we want to uncover it.”
His team is using a lab model of MS to look for a distinct “metabolic fingerprint” that illustrates exactly what each cell type eats. Next, they’ll add the therapy that targets B cells to the mix and see how both B and T cells’ metabolisms change.
If all goes well in the model study, they’ll look for the same fingerprint in blood samples from people with MS.
“We hope to find that specific fingerprint, which could enable us to block out just the food source of the MS-causing cells and leave all of the other cells alone,” Dr. Yuzefpolskiy says. “This is still in the very early stages, but it could lead to a new and more targeted way to treat MS.”