Hope Research is a four-year study of 44 autoimmune diseases.
The combined efforts of the Garvan Institute, the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel and Westmead Hospital will use cellular genomics to examine diseases like MS, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and type 1 diabetes with the aim of finding the underlying cause of autoimmune diseases. Once the research is validated, the team hopes to identify new and targeted treatment options.
More than 100 incurable diseases result from autoimmunity, and their incidence in the community is growing. Without a cure, everyone with an autoimmune disease endures a difficult diagnostic journey with GPs and specialists. Even once a diagnosis is made, the root cause remains unsolved.
Hope Research will deliver hope to the 1 in 8 Australians living with autoimmune disease.
Finding a cause
Garvan’s Professor Chris Goodnow believes there may be a common cause underlying autoimmune diseases. These are ‘rogue clones’ – rogue immune cells circulating and causing tissue and organ damage as the body attacks itself. These rogue clones then circulate and replicate in the blood.
Hope Research will identify bad mutations in cells (which result in rogue cells), and use brand new sophisticated cellular genomic technology to determine exactly what each cell is doing, instead of guessing by studying large groups of cells.
We can then pinpoint chinks in the armour of the rogue clones, hopefully making them susceptible to new drugs and immunotherapy.
Progress to date
Work to identify rogue clones from patients suffering from lupus and Sjögren's syndrome is underway. It is already clear these rogue cells may be identified by unique characteristics and may be targeted in ways that current treatments do not offer.
The team are applying their early findings to 44 common and debilitating autoimmune diseases.
Finding the answer to autoimmune disease requires innovative research, and we can only do this with your support.
To understand, and eventually eliminate rogue clones from the immune system, we need a collaborative, large-scale approach, leveraging the best research technology and expertise.