McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine faculty member Michael Lotze, M.D. (pictured), director of Strategic Partnerships for the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, co-directed a symposium where for the first time in the United States, more than 200 scientists from around the world gathered to explore research challenging conventional theories about immunology, inflammation, and their link to acute and chronic diseases. The Damage Associated Molecular Pattern Molecules (DAMPs) and Alarmins Symposium was recently held at the Hillman Cancer Center.
DAMPs and alarmins are the molecules in the body that promote healing after events such as heart attacks, strokes, and car accidents. According to Dr. Lotze they promote a sterile inflammation that comes from inside cells.
“At this point, it is well-understood that continuous inflammation is also linked to chronic diseases such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and most cancers, particularly those occurring in adults,” said Dr. Lotze. “In the past, the prevailing scientific notion was that pathogen-associated molecular patterns, or PAMPs, cause inflammation by activating the immune system when pathogens such as viruses, parasites, fungi, and bacteria invade the body. This type of immune response occurs in the setting of infection. At this symposium, scientists present[ed] research linking the DAMPs inflammatory response to chronic diseases, including arthritis, obesity, atherosclerosis, and cancer.”
According to Dr. Lotze, current theories of inflammation are based on the notion that inflammation is caused by forces outside the body, such as pathogens, while the DAMPs theory of inflammation suggests that it arises internally from the body's very cells.
The symposium, which included oral and poster presentations, brought together world-renowned researchers from across the globe. The symposium was sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh Center for Continuing Education in the Health Sciences, the Society of Innate Immunity, the Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies, the National Cancer Institute, the Office of Orphan Diseases of the National Institutes of Health, the International Society for Biologic Therapy of Cancer, and the Society of Leukocyte Biology.
Dr. Lotze is also professor of Surgery and Bioengineering; vice chair of research within the Department of Surgery; assistant vice chancellor in the six schools of the Health Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh; and director of the Catalyst Program within the recently funded Clinical and Translational Research Institute.
Illustration: McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
Medical News Today (08/13/08)
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (08/27/08)
Damage Associated Molecular Pattern Molecules (DAMPs) and Alarmins Symposium brochure
Bio: Michael T. Lotze, MD