Newswise — Patrick Swanson, PhD, a professor of Medical Microbiology and Immunology at Creighton University, has received a two-year $400,125 grant from the National Institute of Health (NIH) for his research on the role of the cytokine interleukin-10 (IL-10) in suppressing antibody production in certain autoimmune disorders.

Some human autoimmune disorders are caused by unregulated production of self-reactive antibodies. Swanson said one example is autoimmune hemolytic anemia, in which antibodies start targeting one's own red blood cells.

“I believe IL10 plays a role as part of a feedback mechanism to prevent one’s own B cells, a type of white blood cell, from producing self-reactive membrane-binding antibodies, said Swanson. “Understanding that mechanism could reveal new ways to shut down B cells that start producing such self-reactive antibodies.”

In March of 2016 Swanson received $100,950 from the NIH to help purchase a YETI (ZE5) flow cytometer, a state-of-the-art tool for analyzing cells. Swanson’s lab uses the flow cytometer to distinguish B cell populations from one another based on various markers. The YETI flow cytometer is able to analyze up to 15 different markers simultaneously – nearly four times more than with previous equipment.

The acquisition of the flow cytometer provides new research possibilities for Creighton scientists, and offers a remarkable opportunity for students to gain hands-on experience with this technology.