Brian G. Van Ness
Molecular Immunology; Gene Expression; Lymphoid CancersOur research is directed at understanding the regulation of the immune system: in particular, how antibody or immunoglobulin genes are activated and regulated in B-lymphoid cells. We are especially interested in the DNA rearrangements that are required to express antibody genes. To understand these mechanisms, we are transfecting a variety of mouse and human cell cultures with genetically engineered DNA constructs. We have also bred transgenic mice to help us understand how these gene constructs are regulated in intact animals. Our work has enabled us to identify DNA elements and proteins that serve to activate or suppress immunoglobulin gene expression. Our future efforts are directed toward an understanding of how the regulatory elements are coordinately regulated during the life of a B cell.
In a related research program, we and our clinical colleagues are using a variety of molecular approaches, including PCR-based diagnosis, to monitor and characterize malignant myeloma and leukemia cells. We are particularly interested in defining genetic abnormalities that give rise to malignancy, including analysis of oncogenes. We are continuing to develop both cell culture and mouse models of lymphoid malignancy in order to characterize the effects of genetically manipulated cells on disease progression and response to therapy.