A: They are a very dynamic cell in that they can form antibodies…and these antibodies are sort of at the heart of the immune system and in many ways influence the ability of your body to remember material or infectious agents it has encountered in the past. Also, they have the ability to mount an increasing reaction in the presence of an infectious agent. I’ve always thought that these cells were very dynamic and are able to serve as sentinels as well as be able to really ramp up the immune process when an infectious agent or virus is encountered.
Explore This IssueSeptember 2011
Q: What do you hope will be the broader application of your research goals?
A: If chronic sinusitis with nasal polyps is possibly an autoimmune process, the broader application is that there are whole different families of anti-inflammatory medications that could be used to treat chronic sinusitis with nasal polyps.
Q: Is this research the opening leg of what you’d like to do over time?
A: I think that it is opening research into an area that has not been explored much in chronic sinusitis. If the research pans out, it would be a very interesting area because you would have the ability to test patients to see if they have this autoimmune form of chronic sinusitis, perhaps be able to counsel patients who are unlikely to respond to existing therapies and perhaps treat those patients with a different therapeutic agent. That would be the ideal situation. It certainly can be an opening salvo into a radically different way of treating some patients with chronic sinusitis.
Q: This grant program is meant to provide infrastructure, money and resources to spur more research within the otolaryngology community. How important is that support?
A: Programs like this are incredibly important. One of the challenges in otolaryngology is balancing the clinical demands of the specialty and finding mechanisms to fund studies in our relatively small specialty. Unfortunately, compared to some other specialties, we don’t have many resources in place to support young investigators in the field. Resources like the CORE [Centralized Otolaryngology Research Efforts] grant are very important for launching the careers of new investigators in the field. [Visit entnet.org/EducationAndResearch/coreGrants.cfm to learn more about the CORE program.]
Research: Dr. Hertzano plans to develop a protocol for efficient and reliable cell type–specific chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) from a limited number of sorted cells of mouse inner ears and characterize the downstream effector targets of Zeb1.