The Canna Lab

Navigating the Cytokine Storm

Inflammation, a process that involves every cell in the body, has evolved over millions of years to protect us from infection and help heal wounds. However, the detrimental effects of excessive inflammation are a core component of nearly every disease process. Although inflammation is a critical part of defending our bodies from pathogens, physicians and scientists now understand that it represents a complex system. When inflammation spirals out of control, the ensuing storm of cytokines and other inflammatory mediators can quickly cause organ dysfunction and death. We are just scratching the surface of how we might wisely intervene for the betterment of disease.

As part of the Richard King Mellon Foundation Institute for Pediatric Research, the research team led by pediatric rheumatologist Scott Canna, MD, is studying the mechanisms that drive disorders of excessive inflammation. This includes autoinflammatory diseases like periodic fever syndromes and systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis, as well as hyperinflammatory cytokine storm syndromes like macrophage activation syndrome (MAS) and hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH).

Dr. Canna’s team leverages insights from the clinic, detailed genetic and immunologic testing, biomarker discovery, and various model systems to understand the mechanisms underlying uncontrolled systemic and organ-specific inflammation. Its ultimate aim is to translate these insights into better diagnostic and therapeutic options for patients.

With a better understanding of the causes of inflammation in systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS), the Canna Lab hopes to make diagnosis more timely and precise, and most importantly, find ways to therapeutically temper the inflammatory response.

Learn More about the Canna Lab