Scripps awarded grant to study lupus and rheumatoid arthritis environmental triggers
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have reported that approximately 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Another 322,000 patients have lupus, which is a chronic, possibly life-threatening disease causing damage in the joints, skin and organs.
The grant, funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences’ Virtual Consortium for Translational/Transdisciplinary Environmental Research (ViCTER) program, is meant to further research about the environmental factors that provoke autoimmune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
“We hope to have a better understanding of the mechanisms used to produce autoimmunity by different compounds,” K. Michael Pollard, an associate professor of molecular medicine at SRI and leader of the three-year project, said. “The ViCTER will allow us to bring experts from diverse fields together in a consortium and help advance our understanding of environmentally induced autoimmunity.
“More recent work suggests that mercury does have a role in autoimmune disease, but the severity of the disease is milder compared with crystalline silica,” Pollard said. “We’re looking at why there’s this difference in response.”