Targeting the immune system to treat amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
Dr. Murdock is interested in the immune system’s responses in ALS patient blood samples and ALS mouse models, and he is particularly focused on two types of cells - natural killer (NK) cells and CD4 T cells - and their roles in controlling ALS progression. NK cells protect the body from infection and cancer, but also kill dying cells. Research has also found that the molecule that protects the body from its own NK cells is missing in motor neurons during ALS, and that the number of NK cells increases dramatically as ALS progresses. Conversely, CD4 T cells, the master control cells of the immune system, disappear from the blood during ALS, and studies in mice demonstrate that loss of CD4 T cells dramatically accelerates the rate of disease. Dr. Murdock is therefore attempting to slow ALS progression by interfering with NK cell function or by enhancing CD4 T cells. His findings have led to preclinical ALS studies utilizing a currently FDA-approved drug, and if successful, this drug will be tested in clinical trials in ALS patients. Dr. Murdock has obtained a patent on the use of this drug in ALS patients if these trials are successful.
- BS, Microbiology, Immunology & Molecular Genetics, University of California Los Angeles, 2003
- PhD, Immunology, University of Michigan, 2010
- Postdoctoral fellowship, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, University of Michigan
- Postdoctoral fellowship, Neurology, University of Michigan
This marks the first time that Drs. Stephen Goutman and Benjamin Murdock have been awarded an R01 grant by the NIH.
Associate Professor Benjamin Murdock, Ph.D., speaks about the immune system and ALS on the podcase for the Clinical Research in ALS and Related Disorders for Therapeutic Development (CReATe) Consortium.
Effective treatments for ALS have eluded scientists for decades. A new examination of the immune system led by Dr. Benjamin Murdock shows the appeal of personalized medicine for future care.
Research Assistant Professor Benjamin Murdock, PhD, is leading research to repurpose a drug that suppresses the immune system for use in treating amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).