JDRF signs up to major autoimmune research project
A major type 1 diabetes organisation has joined forced with other charities to launch a first-of-its-kind research project to tackle the UK’s high prevalence of autoimmune conditions.
It is hoped they will all work together to bring about a critical change in the way autoimmune conditions are researched.
Karen Addington, UK Chief Executive of JDRF, said: “Autoimmune conditions all involve the immune system acting inappropriately, so we know they are connected. But researchers investigating different autoimmune conditions are not. Until now they have largely worked separately, focused on the specific conditions rather than the interconnected factors of autoimmunity.
“By bringing them together, we can more find information about these conditions – meaning reduced costs, and more new treatments, faster. One insight into one condition could act as a skeleton key, unlocking a range of treatments and even cures.”
It is thought there are about four million people in the UK living with an autoimmune condition – which is more than six per cent of the population. This includes 400,000 people with type 1 diabetes,.
Professor Yanick Crow, of the University of Edinburgh, has been awarded the first research grant from Connect Immune Research. He will be working with specialists from across different conditions to understand the role of an immune system protein, named interferon, in autoimmunity.
Interferon can be harmful or beneficial in different autoimmune diseases, but it is not yet understood why. This study will use laboratory tests to understand the role of interferon in autoimmunity and the team hope it will lead to better, more targeted treatments.
Autoimmune conditions see the body’s immune system mistakenly attack healthy cells in the body. Up to a third of the four million people affected live with more than one autoimmune condition. This can lead to health needs that are more complex and lives that are more challenging.
For more information about the Connect Immune Research project, click here.