The Investigators’ Meeting in June 2010 brought together more than 50 investigators from across the U.S. to present data and results from their innovative RA research projects and to find creative ways to work more closely together (see “An Eye on RA Innovations,” in the August 2010 issue, p. 1, for a recap). During this meeting, progress from more than 30 RA studies was presented. Investigators openly shared their research in clinical practice, discussed the link between RA and cardiovascular disease, examined the basis for bone and tissue involvement, and provided evidence for genetic links to the disease.
You Might Also Like
Explore This IssueJune 2011
Sharing early research information and seeking collaborations is not something often seen in the world of highly competitive medical research. The Within Our Reach campaign has shown that investigators can be open to collaboration when they are working together for a common cause with a clear goal: finding a cure for RA.
The topic areas covered by Within Our Reach span the basic, translational, and clinical realms of research. The applications for this program are evaluated by a study section comprising volunteers with the requisite scientific expertise to prioritize the proposals. Their efforts have created an impressive slate of worthy projects.
For example, Antony Rosen, MD, professor and director of rheumatology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, was among the first group of scientists supported during Within Our Reach, receiving funding for a project to investigate anti-PADI4 immune responses in RA as a marker of disease propagation. Ultimately, this work, which was published in Arthritis & Rheumatism, showed that anti-PADI4 antibodies are specific markers of RA and independently associated with more severe disease.1
From the second round of funding, Robert Plenge, MD, director of genetics and genomics in the division of rheumatology, immunology, and allergy at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, received a Within Our Reach grant to search for genetic predictors of clinical responses to anti–tumor necrosis factor (TNF) therapy. This research was also published in Arthritis & Rheumatism and described a risk allele associated with a clinical response to anti-TNF drugs, a class of biologic modifier that has become a mainstay of treatment for RA.2 In addition, Dr. Plenge was able to leverage funding from his Within Our Reach project to obtain additional funding to form an international collaboration to study the genetic basis of response to anti-TNF therapy.
In the third cycle, Kevin Deane, MD, assistant professor of medicine in the division of rheumatology at the University of Colorado in Denver, received a grant to study the lung as an initial site of immune dysregulation in RA. Other grants related to this topic were awarded in the fourth cycle to Dana P. Ascherman, MD, associate professor of medicine at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, and Sonye Danoff, MD, PhD, assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, who are looking at biomarkers of RA associated with lung disease. The support of these studies not only reflects their high marks for the quality of the science and innovation, but also the recent interest in the lung as a key player in the pathogenesis of RA.