cGAMP as an immune transmitter of the interferon response
Interferons are immune molecules that cells release when they are infected with viruses to give neighboring cells an alert so they can shore up their own anti-viral defenses. In lupus and other immune disorders, interferons are released even when there is no known infection; in this case, they cause harmful immune activation. There are many different interferon molecules, and most scientists think interferon alpha is the most important one in the development and progression of lupus. But Dr. Elkon has done experiments with mouse models suggesting that interferon beta is the one to watch, especially during lupus flares and when skin is exposed to sun or other ultraviolet light.
What this study means for people with lupus
Dr. Elkon is using his LRA grant support to determine how skin exposure to ultraviolet light initiates an immune response in the blood that leads to lupus flares. Homing in on the specific molecules responsible is essential to targeting them therapeutically.