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Discovery of PLA2R: 10-Year Anniversary of a Milestone for Idiopathic Membranous Nephropathy

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As a research fellow in the laboratory of Professor David Salant, MB, BCh, at Boston University, Laurence Beck, MD, PhD, spent several frustrating years trying to identify the targets of the autoantibodies that cause idiopathic membranous nephropathy (IMN). Finding these targets was critical to understanding why the immune system attacks the body’s own cells in that disease. Then, in 2009, he and his colleagues identified the M-type phospholipase A2 receptor PLA2R as a prime target (1). At the time, they didn’t know how pivotal their discovery would be.

“When we finally identified PLA2R, that was certainly

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