Reducing Bloodstream Neutrophils as a Treatment for Lung Infection and Inflammation

During lung infection, bloodstream neutrophils (PMNs) responding to infection travel to the airspace lumen. Although successful arrival of microbicidal PMNs to the airspace is essential for host defense against inhaled pathogens, excessive accumulation of PMNs in the lung contributes to the pathogenesis of several prevalent lung disorders, including acute lung injury, bronchiectasis, and COPD. Unfortunately, there is no treatment for controlling PMN accumulation in the lung.

NIEHS researchers identified epithelial membrane protein 2 (EMP2) as a lung epithelial protein that regulates PMN entry into the inflamed airspace. EMP2 knockout mice have reduced PMN accumulation and exhibit increased survival during bacterial infection.

Potential Commercial Applications: Competitive Advantages:
An EMP2 inhibitor can be developed for the treatment or prophylaxis for a wide variety of neutrophil-dependent lung disorders, such as:.

  • acute lung injury
  • pneumonia (bacterial, viral, fungal)
  • bronchiectasis
  • COPD and asthma
  • radiation- or chemotherapeutic-induced pneumonitis
  • idiopathic or induced interstitial lung disease
  • bronchopulmonary dysplasia
  • lung transplant rejection
  • EMP2 can selectively target PMN accumulation in the lung, rather than broadly affecting PMN trafficking through all tissues


Michael Fessler (NIEHS)  ➽ more inventions...

Carmen Williams (NIEHS)  ➽ more inventions...

Wan-Chi Lin (NIEHS)  ➽ more inventions...

Intellectual Property:
US Application No. 62/664,805
US Application No. 62/771,326
PCT Application No. PCT/US2019/29801
US Application No. 17/051,678
Pending patent applications in US, Europe, Israel, and China.

Lin WC, Gowdy KM, Madenspacher JH, et al. PMID 31550239

Collaboration Opportunity:

The NIEHS is seeking statements of capability or interest from parties interested in collaborative research to further develop, evaluate, or commercialize EMP2 inhibitors as a therapeutic or prophylactic. For collaboration opportunities, please contact: Sharon Soucek, Ph.D. at

Licensing Contact:
Vidita Choudhry, Ph.D.
Phone: 301-594-4095

OTT Reference No: E-125-2018-0
Updated: Mar 8, 2021