Dr. Kristy Murray, Vice-Chair for Research for the Department for Pediatrics

Project Overview

The Brockman Foundation has provided funding support for the Efficacy of Neurokin-1 Receptor Antagonists in the treatment of encephalitis from West Nile virus infection. Led by Dr. Kristy Murray, Assistant Dean for Faculty and Academic Development for the National School of Tropical Medicine, and Director of the Center for Human Immunobiology at Texas Children’s Hospital, this high impact study will critically advance knowledge on the role of inflammation in the development of West Nile virus Neuroinvasive Disease (WNND) and the mechanisms of specific inflammatory mediators on clinical outcomes.

Dr. Murray spent the first five years of her career at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), where she served for two years as an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer. Dr. Murray investigated the initial 1999 outbreak of West Nile virus in New York City, and received the Secretary’s Award for Distinguished Service. Since returning to Texas in 2002, Dr. Murray’s research has been focused both on laboratory- and clinically-based studies related to vector-borne and zoonotic diseases. She has authored more than 120 scientific and technical papers, and her primary expertise applies to the pathogenesis and clinical outcomes of West Nile virus.

Dr. Murray’s long-term goal is to develop a viable treatment option for human WNV infection that can also be broadly applied to other infectious causes of encephalitis. The specific goals of this proposed study are to evaluate the efficacy of three promising immune-modulating treatments using a West Nile Neuroinvasive Disease model, and to provide mechanistic information of viral invasion and damage in the central nervous system. These data will provide Dr. Murray’s team with a greater understanding of the immunologic mechanisms of neuroinflammation during WNV infection and pave the way for developing preclinical trials in humans.

Since its discovery in the US in 1999, >47,000 clinically evident WNV cases in humans have been reported to the CDC, including >1,900 related deaths. Currently, there are no therapeutics or preventives to combat WNV infection, a serious public health threat in the US and worldwide.

Project Highlights

  • Project Focus:: Immune-modulating treatments