McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine
faculty member Jay Kolls, MD (pictured), Chief, Division of Pediatric Pulmonary Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, and Professor of Pediatrics and Immunology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, discovered a protein target that may lead to therapies to treat bacterial pneumonia and play a vital role in creating a vaccine to prevent the disease. Dr. Kolls’ work today points toward a future treatment more effective than antibiotics that comes without the risk of creating antibiotic resistance. As reported by Joe Miksch, PittMed, through Dr. Kolls’ efforts, a novel treatment for pneumonia will one day emerge from a new cell line.
In his years of research, Dr. Kolls linked interleukin-17, T Helper type 17 cells, neutrophil responses, cytokines, interleukin-22, lypocalin-2 (an iron-stealing protein), antimicrobial peptides, invading bacteria that scavenge iron from the body in order to survive. In his studies, by increasing the level of interleukin-22 in the lung tissue of mice infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis, he was able to cure the rodents. More interleukin-22, Dr. Kolls found, meant that there were more iron-stealing proteins and progressively more resilient lung epithelial cells, which could better handle the insults and injuries caused by the pneumonia bacteria. Dr. Kolls says he thinks the process will work the same way in humans. Doses of recombinant interleukin-22 could be used as a prophylactic treatment against tuberculosis, he says, priming the immune system for a fight.
It will be as much as a decade before interleukin-22–related therapies are approved to treat or prevent tuberculosis in people. “We could use it as a prophylactic regimen; it could be used as a vaccine,” Dr. Kolls says. “There’s a 5- to 10-year timeline before this could probably happen, but we’ve learned a lot, and we’re making progress.”
Illustration: McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
Pitt Med, page 4 (Winter 2008)
Bio: Dr. Jay Kolls