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JDRF International, in partnership with the Lupus Research Alliance and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, is soliciting Letters of Intent (LOI) from investigators across autoimmune (and other relevant) fields to advance the understanding of autoimmunity and to obtain more specific insights into commonalities and differences of immune pathways that govern these pathogenic processes. The incomplete knowledge of immune networks, pathways, disease pathogenesis and heterogeneity across multiple autoimmune diseases remains a challenge towards achieving optimal therapies to effectively treat all subjects in a given indication. The purpose of this call is to invite innovative ideas that address needs across multiple autoimmune diseases in novel ways that may allow us to make faster progress together. Applications must address one or more of the following autoimmune diseases: Type 1 Diabetes (T1D), Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) and Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
Autoimmune diseases are chronic disorders in which the immune system produces an inappropriate response against its own cells, tissues and/or organs that results in inflammation and damage. More than 100 autoimmune diseases have been identified to date. An incomplete knowledge of disease pathogenesis and heterogeneity among patients is very common in many autoimmune diseases, representing a real challenge that impacts the effectiveness of clinical trial design and the ability to predict whether a person will respond to a given treatment.
For some autoimmune diseases there are no approved immunotherapies (e.g. T1D) and for other diseases where multiple therapies are approved and already in clinical use, significant number of subjects do not respond to disease-modifying therapies. Importantly, the approved therapies in some conditions, such as SLE and MS, do not prevent disease progression and end-organ damage. While there are differences in successes and challenges across autoimmune diseases, there are overarching themes that can guide progress across multiple diseases. Common challenges, such as disease heterogeneity in SLE, MS and T1D; common features including the association of autoantibodies in the pathogenesis of SLE, Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and T1D, and the identification of self-antigens as key players in diseases such as MS, T1D, and Thyroiditis suggest: 1) the existence of intricate networks of autoimmune activity that may connect or differentiate these diseases from each other; and 2) the need for tools to study them.
Unraveling such overarching networks may reveal a wide selection of targetable pathways that may be shared or distinct between diseases. With the recent advances in human immunology and the advent of cutting-edge technologies, including advanced machine learning capabilities, autoimmune communities can now ask new questions or revisit old ones with new tools and for deeper, new insights. These discoveries may open new avenues of research and greatly accelerate therapeutic development.