Paul Robbins, PhD
biology of age-related degeneration, autoimmune disease, gene therapy
The pathways important for driving autoimmune and inflammatory diseases as well as age related degeneration are surprisingly similar. For example, inhibition of the transcription factor NF-?B is therapeutic in mouse models of autoimmunity and inflammation as well as Duchenne muscular dystrophy and aging. Similarly, inhibition of IL-1ß signaling by gene transfer of the IL-1 receptor antagonist protein is therapeutic in multiple models of diseases. The Robbins laboratory is developing novel approaches to treat autoimmune (type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis), inflammatory (inflammatory bowel disease, delayed type hypersensitivity) and age-related degenerative diseases using biologics and small molecules. The therapeutic approaches being developed include: 1) AAV mediated gene transfer of anti-inflammatory or immunosuppressive agents; 2) Peptide and small molecule inhibitors of the transcription factor of NF-?B; 3) Novel osteogenic peptides; 4) Adult stem cells; 5) Microvesicles (exosomes) derived from immunoregulatory or stem cells able to block inflammation or promote regeneration; and 6) Identification of drugs able to reverse cellular senescence for improving healthy aging. Although the majority of the studies are being performed in mouse models of disease, approaches to treat osteoarthritis by intra-articular AAV-mediated gene transfer and Duchenne muscular dystrophy by systemic treatment with a NF-?B inhibitory peptide will soon be entering the clinic.