In a back corner of the University of Missouri’s medical building, a few floors above the hospital and tucked away to the right, Habib Zaghouani watches a cellular war. He has been up there for seven years, with an army of graduate students and a colony of mice, trying to understand why our bodies attack us and how we can make them stop.
Habib Zaghouani, along with his team of graduate and post-doctoral fellows, is working on four different projects in the lab. The first examines why newborn babies are so susceptible to infection, the second tries to understand how the immune system’s memory works, while the third and fourth aim at developing treatments for specific diseases: type I diabetes and multiple sclerosis.
Zaghouani’s third project has had great success. Cara Haymaker, who is in charge of this research program, reports that they have identified a successful treatment for experimental allergic encephalomyelitis, a disease affecting mice that is very similar to multiple sclerosis in humans. So far, the research team has been able to completely reverse the disease in mice with two forms of treatment.