published January 31, 2013
Working towards a world without lupus
The vision of the Lupus Foundation of Minnesota (LFM) is boldly and simply stated:
A World without Lupus
Towards that end, LFM annually funds promising clinical researchers in their efforts to discover better ways to treat, cure, and help prevent lupus.
In December the foundation awarded $93,457 in grants to three Minnesota-based researchers in order to pursue these efforts. They include:
Vaidehi R. Chowdhary specializes in rheumatology and internal medicine at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester. Dr. Chowdhary’s recent findings that chronic exposure to superantigen-producing staphylococcus aureus can induce systemic inflammatory disease symptoms (with features similar to those of systemic lupus erythematosus) have led to an LFM grant of $25,462 to evaluate the role of “Staphylococcal Superantigen SEB in the Pathogenesis of Lupus” and pursue further research in this area. For an abstract on her earlier findings see the July 13, 2012 issue of The Journal of Immunology at: http://www.jimmunol.org/content/189/4/2054.abstract
Brian T. Fife is an Assistant Professor of Medicine within the Division of Rheumatic and Autoimmune Diseases at the University of Minnesota Medical School whose research focus is the restoration of immunological self tolerance for treatment of autoimmunity. Dr. Fife received a grant award of $34,995 for his project entitled “Imaging Cellular Interactions during Lupus and Targeting Interferon Signature”. The project involves in vivo imaging of joint flares of auto-reactive cells within tissues and inflamed joints. Type I interferons (IFNs) are potent cytokines (IFNα and IFNβ) and also mediate the Th1 response, sustain activated T-cells, sustain B-cell survival, and lower the B-cell activation threshold. Imaging may allow better understanding of how these responses propagate pro-inflammatory cytokines, which contribute to chronic inflammation and tissue damage, and could lead to prevention or better treatments.
Erik Peterson of the Rheumatic and Autoimmune Disease Department at the University of Minnesota is a superbly trained immunologist with a scientific interest in those molecules that regulate the development and function of the immune system and prevent or promote the development of autoimmunity. Peterson received a $35,000 grant for his study related to “how the SLE Risk gene PRPn22 promotes TLR signaling to type 1 Interferon” utilizing an active SLE cohort of over 200 patients. More than half of all patients with SLE show a dysregulation in the expression of genes in the interferon (IFN) pathway and the results of his study could suggest cellular and molecular targets for the development of new therapies.
All grants are made possible through fundraising from LFM events like the Lupus Walk for Hope and 5K Run, Lupus Food and Wine Classic and other research-specific donations, as well as on-going funds previously established by LFM.
Look for further updates from these LFM-funded researchers in future newsletters and blogs.