The Limper laboratory has two primary interests. Our first focus is the better understand lung defense as it relates to infection in immunocompromised hosts. We have been very engaged in understanding the life cycle and mechanisms by which Pneumocystis carinii infects immunocompromised individuals. Our studies have led to new insights for modulating immunity as well as for discovering new drug targets for this important opportunistic infection.
Our second concern is to better understand mechanisms of lung fibrosis in the idiopathic interstitial pneumonias. The idiopathic interstitial pneumonias are diseases without known causes that slowly lead to the replacement of the lung with scar material. We have focused upon the role of two important cytokines including transforming growth factor beta and tumor necrosis factor alpha. Through a combination of cell studies and animal modeling, we are aiming to develop new modalities to treat patients with these important lung diseases.