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Foundation collaboration with NIH program provides important clues about potential research targets

February 21, 2018

Datasets characterizing individual cells in rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus disease tissue from the Accelerating Medicines Partnership for Rheumatoid Arthritis and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (AMP RA/SLE) Phase I study are now available to the research community. Scientists from across the biomedical research community can access the AMP RA/SLE datasets to explore important research questions about these autoimmune conditions.

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 (NIAID), manages the AMP RA/SLE program. The Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH) 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 non-profit partners are also actively involved in sharing resources and expertise.

“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 Francis S. Collins, M.D, Ph.D. “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.”

This study used state-of-the-art technologies 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. Other research tools tend to examine signals from across populations of cells, and in the process may miss important factors coming from only a few individual cells. By focusing on single cells, researchers can tease out the contributions of specific pathways inside these cells that may play a role in disease, providing a new approach to understanding autoimmunity.

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 tissues. People with these conditions need more and better treatments, as some fail to respond to existing therapies.

The newly released information holds clues for potential research targets that may lead to future treatment options. Availability of the data expands the search for genes, proteins, biological pathways and other factors that influence these conditions. Researchers mining the data can seek to identify treatment targets to develop medicines for diseases of interest. The data also has potential implications for precision medicine, as AMP RA/SLE researchers identify differences in the pathways active in the tissue of different patients.

“No single organization has the resources to take on the challenges facing the rheumatoid arthritis and lupus communities,” said Maria C. Freire, Ph.D., president and executive director of the FNIH. “AMP brings together government, pharmaceutical and not-for-profit expertise to collaboratively move therapies forward for these autoimmune diseases.”

Learn more about the AMP RA/SLE program.

 

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