Using alopecia areata patients’ sera to identify antigens that are the targets of AA patients’ autoantibodies
This project aims to sequence DNA, create libraries and identify candidate antibody targets using samples from the AA Registry & Biobank.
There is now very compelling genetic evidence that alopecia areata (AA) is an autoimmune disease where AA patients generate an immune response against their own hair follicles resulting in disfiguring hair loss. However, nothing is known about components of the hair follicle that are targeted by the immune system. This application makes the assumption that AA patients generate autoantibodies against antigens expressed in hair follicles. To identify these hair follicle antigens, we will use sera collected from AA patients to screen a library of DNA clones expressing all proteins (putative antigens) that are synthesized in human hair follicles. Once we identify a DNA clone that is recognized by the AA patients' autoantibodies, we can sequence this DNA clone and determine the antigen that it synthesizes.
This study may identify what the immune system is attacking that results in alopecia areata and possible therapy approaches to block the destruction of hair follicles.