Feinstein Institute for Medical Research Professors Dr. Betty Diamond and Dr. Peter K. Gregersen release data from their National Institutes of Health research which reveals our cells’ roles in rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
This work is part of the NIH’s Accelerating Medicines Partnership for Rheumatoid Arthritis and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Phase I study. The datasets can be accessed by scientists from across the biomedical research community to explore important research questions about these autoimmune conditions, potentially leading to new therapies.
Rheumatoid arthritis and lupus are autoimmune diseases that can last a lifetime, cause significant disability, greatly reduce quality of life and are associated with increased risk of early death.
These disorders share similar flaws in immune function and regulation, leading to inflammation that damages tissue. People with these conditions need more and better treatments, as some fail to respond to existing therapies.
“Before we can develop therapies for a condition, we need to fully understand the cause which is the goal of the NIH’s AMP RA/SLE program,” said Diamond who is head of the Feinstein Institute’s Center for Autoimmune, Musculoskeletal and Hematopoietic Diseases. “The research conducted in Phase I of this program focused on single cells, so we could tease out the contributions of specific pathways inside these cells that may play a role in lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, providing a new approach to understanding autoimmunity.”
Diamond and Gregersen joined investigators across the country and employed state-of-the-art tools to analyze individual cells from the lining of the joints in people with rheumatoid arthritis and the kidneys from people with lupus from research cohorts whose clinical characteristics were well-studied.
The newly released information holds clues for potential research targets that may lead to future treatment options.
“The best way to drive forward our genetic understanding of diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis is through access to large amounts of genetic data for analysis by the scientific community,” said Gregersen who is head of the Feinstein Institute’s Robert S. Boas Center for Genomics & Human Genetics. “Availability of this data through the AMP RA/SLE program expands the search for genes, proteins, biological pathways and other factors that influence these conditions. The data we are generating also has potential implications for precision medicine, as it points to the pathways active in the tissue of different patients which could be used for more targeted therapies.”
The AMP RA/SLE investigators are currently conducting Phase II studies, which will include a larger cohort of patients with RA and lupus. The Phase I data are freely available through the NIAID-sponsored Immunology Database and Analysis Portal immport.org. Genomic data are also being submitted to be made available through the NIH’s database of Genotypes and Phenotypes ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/gap.
“This pioneering program seeks to speed the development of new ways to combat a range of devastating diseases that affect millions of people,” said National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis S. Collins. “AMP RA/SLE is entering an exciting phase as experts around the world will begin to mine this invaluable biomedical resource in search of tomorrow’s cures.”
The AMP RA/SLE program is one of three AMP projects launched in 2014 as part of an unprecedented public-private partnership to identify promising biological targets for potential therapeutics and reduce the time and cost of developing them. The NIH’s National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, manages the AMP RA/SLE program.
The Foundation for the National Institutes of Health manages the partnership between the NIH and the external partners, which include participating members from industry AbbVie, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Merck & Co., Inc., Pfizer Inc., Sanofi, and Takeda Pharmaceuticals International Inc., and non-profit partners Arthritis Foundation, Lupus Foundation of America, Lupus Research Alliance, and Rheumatology Research Foundation.
Within the context of the partnership, industry and nonprofit partners are also actively involved in sharing resources and expertise.
For more information on the AMP, visit nih.gov/research-training/accelerating-medicines-partnership-amp.
For more information on the AMP RA/SLE program, visit niams.nih.gov/grants-funding/funded-research/accelerating-medicines.