There is ongoing tension between discovery-driven research and the traditional hypothesis-driven research, when the goal should be to merge them, Dr. Brenner said.
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A recent example of this merging can be seen in the lab of Vijray Kuchroo, DVM, PhD, professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School in Boston, where Dr. Kuchroo and collaborators have used new tools to analyze the role of genes in the differentiation of TH17 cells, which are important players in RA. That led to the discovery that serum and glucocorticoid-inducible kinase 1 (SGK-1) are closely linked to that process.
SGK-1 is a regulator of sodium channels, and researchers later found that mice on a high-salt diet showed “measurably enhanced” TH17 cell differentiation.
“The new technologies and new tools that we have really aren’t in conflict with the old, hypothesis-driven approaches that some of us know and love,” Dr. Brenner said. “But they really work together with it and allow us to discover new things.”
Thomas Collins is a freelance medical journalist based in Florida.
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