2015 Hope Pilot Grant Award Recipient Announced

April 6, 2015

Funded study to offer molecular insights into eosinophilic esophagitis

ATLANTA, GA—A 2015 Hope Pilot Grant Award will fund a promising research study that may create new opportunities in eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) research by focusing on the molecular aspects of the condition.

Patients with EoE have above-normal numbers of eosinophils (a type of white blood cell) in the lining of the esophagus (the tube connecting the mouth to the stomach), leading to inflammation and damage. There is no cure for EoE, and there are no FDA-approved treatments.

Ting Wen, PhD, of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, will receive $100,000 of funding over a two-year period for his project titled, “Defining Esophageal Lymphocyte Phenotype and Function in Eosinophilic Esophagitis.”

Dr. Wen’s research will look at tissue-residing intraepithelial lymphocytes (IELs), which are cells that operate as a first line of immunological defense in the mucosal barrier in the human gastrointestinal system. This research will test the hypothesis that the presence of T helper type 2 (Th2) cytokine–producing IELs drives eosinophil tissue homing at the cellular level. The study may also suggest whether adaptive immune recognition by IELs may be a common mechanism in eosinophil-associated diseases.

“We look forward to Dr. Wen’s contribution to the research of eosinophil-associated diseases,” said APFED Executive Director Mary Jo Strobel. “By examining the cellular and molecular mechanisms that underlie EoE, we hope to gain a deeper understanding and open the door to new ways of treating this disease.”

APFED’s competitive research grant program, the Hope on the Horizon Research Fund, is supported entirely by donations and has contributed more than $1.6 million for the research of eosinophil-associated diseases since the fund began in 2005. HOPE Pilot awards allow investigators from a variety of disciplines to initiate new projects relevant to eosinophil-associated diseases, with a focus on the development of new ideas that are likely to lead to future external funding.