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Research Activities and Resources

Autoimmunity Centers of Excellence

The nine Autoimmunity Centers of Excellence (ACEs) conduct collaborative basic and clinical research on autoimmune diseases, including single-site and multi-site pilot clinical trials of immunomodulatory therapies and mechanism-of-action studies. ACEs support close interaction between clinicians and basic researchers, which should facilitate the identification of effective tolerance induction and immune modulation strategies to treat or prevent disease and accelerate the translation of scientific advances to the clinic. ACEs also support four clinical trials and two mechanistic studies of immunomodulatory therapies including:

  • A Phase I/II clinical trial of anti-CD20 for treatment of lupus. This trial is complete and analysis is in progress.
  • A Phase I clinical trial of anti-TNF for treatment of lupus nephritis. The development of this study is almost complete.
  • A preclinical study of DNase treatment is in progress and is cosponsored by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and the National Institutes of Health Office of Research on Women’s Health.

Autoimmune Disease Prevention Centers

The Autoimmune Disease Prevention Centers conduct research on the development of new targets and approaches to prevent autoimmune diseases, including lupus. These approaches are evaluated in pilot and clinical studies. The centers are a cooperative network of integrated basic, pre-clinical, and clinical research centers that

  • Conduct single-site and multi-site cooperative clinical trials and studies of mechanisms of action of tolerance induction and new immune modulation interventions in multiple autoimmune diseases
  • Accelerate early translation of basic findings into clinical application
  • Facilitate the use of clinical materials for basic research studies
  • Enhance the exchange of information between basic scientists and clinicians and among various specialists involved in treating autoimmune diseases
  • Promote a collaborative approach to clinical and basic research among multiple institutions in various geographic areas.

Immune Tolerance Network

The Immune Tolerance Network (ITN), sponsored by NIAID and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International, is an international consortium of more than 80 investigators in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Australia dedicated to the clinical evaluation of novel, tolerance-inducing therapies in autoimmune diseases, asthma and allergic diseases, and rejection of transplanted organs, tissues, and cells. The goal of these therapies is to “reeducate” the immune system to eliminate injurious immune responses and graft rejection while preserving protective immunity against infectious agents. To understand the underlying mechanisms of action of the candidate therapies and to monitor tolerance, ITN has established state-of-the art core laboratory facilities to conduct integrated mechanistic studies and to develop and evaluate markers and assays to measure the induction, maintenance, and loss of tolerance in humans.

The Multiple Autoimmune Diseases Genetics Consortium is a repository of genetic and clinical data and specimens from families in which two or more family members are affected by two or more distinct autoimmune diseases. The repository provides well-characterized material for use in research to identify genes involved in autoimmune diseases. Samples from 1,243 affected individuals and approximately 1,000 control subjects, all with associated clinical information, are available to qualified researchers.

Research projects that follow up the risk factors identified in these studies have the potential to illuminate the pathways that lead to autoimmune diseases, particularly systemic lupus erythematosus, confirm targets for novel therapies, and allow more conclusive, personalized diagnosis of disease and prediction of response to therapy in individual cases.

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Last Updated February 25, 2009

Last Reviewed February 25, 2009