NIH-funded UCSD rheumatic diseases center to facilitate collaboration, speed discoveries

ample is a local Phase 1 clinical trial of gene therapy approaches in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. This trial is the result of ongoing research by Gary Firestein, M.D., professor of medicine and chief, Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology, and Arthur Kavanaugh, M.D., associate professor of medicine and director, UCSD Center for Innovative Therapy.

In work already initiated, several personnel in the RDCC are working closely with Hal M. Hoffman, M.D., assistant professor of medicine and pediatrics, to better understand the genetic and molecular basis for an inherited chronic disease that is the cause of severe skin disease and often disabling arthritis. These studies have already led to insights into how a previously unknown human protein, expressed in white cells and normally involved in the defense of infection, connect different components of the immune system and contribute to the maintenance of cellular regulation.

RDCC resources also will greatly amplify the efforts of Silvermans research group that seeks to develop compounds based on the properties of natural bacterial toxins. They are working to develop related proteins to target the diseased B lymphocytes that are responsible for destruction of platelets and other cells in the body that occurs in patients with autoimmune diseases such as lupus.

Two aspects of our program will speed the translation of scientific research into new treatment for patients, Silverman said. With retreats, seminars and forums, well bring together a diverse group of scientists who have overlapping interests, but who might not otherwise interact and share information. UCSD will serve as the coordinating center to support, encourage and expand these interactions.

He added that the RDCC will also provide centralized, shared facilities:

A Molecular Biology Core, which provides specialized services such as DNA sequencing and antibody production;

A Biomarker Core, which

Contact: Sue Pondrom
University of California - San Diego

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