Dissecting the role of CD248 in inflammatory diseases

Inflammatory diseases are common, debilitating and affect the well-being of millions of people worldwide. Almost any part of the body can become inflamed, resulting in pain and suffering. For example, Crohn's disease, or colitis, is caused by intestinal inflammation and is manifested by pain, diarrhea and weight loss. Asthma is caused by the inflammation of lung airways and impacts breathing. Atherosclerosis, which involves blood vessel inflammation, leads to heart attacks, strokes, blindness and poor circulation. Because of the wide impact of these diseases, there is an urgent need to control and treat inflammation. The Conway lab was the first to determine that a protein called CD248, plays an important role in controlling inflammatory disorders. When inflammation is present, CD248 is made in high amounts by both stromal and perivascular cells, which reside in all tissues of the body. By generating mice that lack CD248 or a part of the molecule, Dr. Conway's group tested the hypothesis that CD248 might make inflammation worse. Indeed, CD248 ""knockout"" mice develop less severe joint inflammation (arthritis). This finding — that CD248 is involved in inflammation — was very significant, as it points to CD248 as a potential drug target for anti-inflammatory drugs. Dr. Yanet Valdez is now taking this research one step further to determine exactly how CD248 increases inflammation. She is using various biochemical methods to determine which inflammatory diseases are affected by CD248 and what parts of the CD248 protein influence inflammation. The studies will help her figure out how to better turn off the pro-inflammatory effects of CD248 and devise therapies to reduce inflammation severity.