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In the Spotlight...

Bridget S. Wilson, Ph.D.

FINAL Wilson PhotoBridget S. Wilson, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Pathology
Director, New Mexico Center for Spatiotemporal Modeling of Cell Signaling
Health Sciences Center
The University of New Mexico

Dr. Wilson has disclosed four inventions and has two pending patent applications for her recombinant hypoallergens technology and her therapeutic antibodies technology for targeting pre-BCR B cell precursor in acute lymphoblastic leukemia (pre-B ALL).

Dr. Wilson’s recombinant hypoallergens technology uses state-of-the art imaging and an improved computational process for measuring how allergens crosslink and activate human receptors. Her team has produced high-resolution imaging techniques showing the structure, migration and redistribution of a specific receptor on the membranes of mast cells and basophils (white blood cells) that release histamine and other inflammatory mediators in reaction to an allergen. This novel way of analyzing allergen structures will enable the team to re-engineer allergens, with the goal of creating new versions that can be used as safer immunotherapies without causing an allergic reaction when administered.

Currently, there is a wealth of information about allergen structure but scant information is available about how these structural features trigger receptors on mast cells and basophils. The “threshold” of allergen exposure that translates to life-threatening events is poorly understood.  Further research and testing in these areas could be beneficial in discovering new treatment methods that are safer and more effective for treating allergens.

The researchers are designing and testing different combinations of hypoallergens, substances that can produce antibodies but provoke a low or no allergic response.  Future plans include preclinical studies to test the recombinant hypoallergens on human basophils isolated from allergic subjects as well as conducting safety profiles in animal models. The team hopes that these new compounds will form the basis of new treatments for patients in allergy clinics worldwide.  Additionally, the technology has general application for the study of cell signal transduction in other disease processes.

Dr. Wilson’s initiative in pre-B ALL is a novel therapeutic designed to specifically target leukemia cells, while protecting mature B cells that are critical components of the adaptive immune system. This strategy will benefit leukemia patients who often suffer from secondary infections during the steroid and chemotherapy phases of treatment.

Dr. Wilson’s basic research program focuses on membrane microdomains, signaling and receptor trafficking using a combination of innovative microscopic approaches, from the nanoscale to tissue scales. Electron microscopy approaches provide high spatial-resolution information, complemented by live cell imaging approaches for temporal resolution.  Her team studies receptor tyrosine kinases, with an emphasis  on the ErbB3 member of the EGFR family.  The pending patents are outgrowths of her work on immunoreceptors, including the pre-BCR and the high affinity IgE receptor (FcεRI) of mast cells and basophils. The structure-function relationships of immunoreceptors and their crosslinking agents, as well as receptor internalization mechanisms, are important areas of focus.

PENDING PATENT APPLICATIONS
Methods and Compositions Involving Recombinant Hypoallergens
Therapeutic Antibodies and Their Derivatives to Target the Pre-BCR in BCP-ALL

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