About Dr. Lemasson's Research
The human T-cell leukemia virus type 1, a retrovirus that causes adult T-cell leukemia, is an untreatable and often fatal disease. This virus, called HTLV-1, is unusual. After entering the body, it lies largely dormant for as many as 40 years before causing the leukemia.
Dr. Isabelle Lemasson, assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, and the researchers in her lab here at East Carolina University have been researching HTLV-1, focusing specifically on the role of a protein called HBZ and how it is involved in regulating viral and cellular transcription. Lemasson believes that HBZ plays a role in keeping HTLV-1 from replicating too quickly and drawing an attack from the immune system. The virus can also cause a neurodegenerative disease similar to multiple sclerosis, which can often be wrongly diagnosed.
Lemasson received her undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees from the University of Montpellier in France. She then came to the United States to do post-doctoral work at Colorado State University. There, she met her husband, Dr. Nick Polakowski, who was also in the post-doctoral program. They came to ECU in 2005 and work on this research as a team. Polakowski is a research instructor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology.
Disease prevention is an important step for everyone, all over the world. To have doctors such as Lemasson working on research that can hopefully be used to better understand all types of cancer is truly exciting for East Carolina University.
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