Ten new research projects to understand the causes of autoimmunity

12 May 2022

Ten new autoimmunity research projects are announced today, receiving a total of almost £1 million from the Lorna and Yuti Chernajovsky Biomedical Research Foundation working with Connect Immune Research*, a coalition of medical research charities.

Why is this research important?

In all autoimmune conditions, our immune systems attack healthy cells in the body, causing symptoms that have the potential to severely limit people’s lives. They affect an estimated four million people in the UK – equivalent to more than six per cent of the population – but are currently incurable.

Examples include type 1 diabetes, coeliac disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis and alopecia. Although these conditions affect different parts of the body, we know from observing commonalities that they are somehow linked. By better understanding this link this will help to improve treatments for all autoimmune conditions.

What will be involved?

The studies will take a number of approaches to increase our understanding of autoimmunity and how to treat it including:

  • Examining the genetics of autoimmunity
  • Looking for potential new immunotherapy treatments for autoimmunity
  • Analysing how gut health might affect autoimmunity
  • Building knowledge of how different types of immune cell are involved in the development of autoimmune conditions

These projects aim to quickly develop evidence for potential new treatments for multiple autoimmune conditions by examining similarities between the different diseases.

How will the autoimmune research benefit patients?

Previously, research into autoimmune conditions has focused on specific diseases.

We are investing in research that brings together scientists to understand how autoimmune conditions are linked, and what we learn about one condition can be used to treat others.

By working collaboratively, we hope to find more effective solutions to conditions like arthritis, quicker.

Neha Issar Brown, Versus Arthritis director of research said:

“We are determined to make arthritis preventable, treatable and curable. We know that our partners in this pioneering initiative are equally keen to understand the shared underlying immunological reasons for several other chronic, autoimmune conditions that severely limit people’s lives.

“By combining resources and expertise collaboratively we can help ensure research makes a bigger difference to people’s lives.”

Maxine Pancaldi, a lay panel member said:

“It’s incredibly encouraging to see this collaboration gather speed. It truly gives hope to those of us living with autoimmune conditions that a concentration of minds and findings will unlock the mysteries of the immune system."

More about the research

The Lorna and Yuti Chernajovsky Biomedical Research Foundation was set up in 2019 to improve public health by providing grants to support quality research into the development of new targeted therapies.

*Connect Immune Research is a partnership of charities who are dedicated to tackling autoimmune conditions. Members include the type 1 diabetes charity JDRF, Versus Arthritis, MS Society, British Society for Immunology, Alopecia UK, Coeliac UK, Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Alliance and Bowel Research UK.

Learn more about our research.

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