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Aileen Chang, MD, MSPH

Aileen Chang RSG TMT19
Faculty Starter Grant in Translational Medicine, 2019 George Washington University

The Role of Interleukin-2 Therapy for Relapsing-Remitting Chikungunya Arthritis


This project seeks to identify an effective treatment for the arthritis caused by chikungunya virus. Chikungunya virus is spread by mosquitoes and causes a debilitating arthritis that can last for years. The research team works in Colombia to better understand what causes this arthritis and how it can be treated. There is currently no evidence-based treatment for chikungunya arthritis. The study discovered that interleukin-2 (IL-2), a cytokine important for the development of regulatory T-cells, was low in patients who developed chronic arthritis after chikungunya infection. Therefore, in Aim 1, the project will determine if low IL-2 levels correlate with low regulatory T-cell populations in chikungunya patients with arthritis flares and if novel IL-2 therapy could be effective in chikungunya arthritis. In Aim 2, the project will test the efficacy of low-dose IL-2 therapy in a chikungunya arthritis mouse model. The goal of this research is to identify a targeted treatment for chikungunya arthritis.

I am so grateful for the PhRMA Foundation because its support has allowed me to develop our Colombian clinical research site and establish the animal models necessary to move towards an evidenced-based treatment for arthritis caused by chikungunya. Personally, the PhRMA Foundation has provided funding during a critical period of my development as a clinical translational researcher that has facilitated further training in laboratory based analytics and clinical trial management on the pathway to scientific independence.

Aileen Chang

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