The HSS Genomics Center will work to develop genomic approaches to the study of the autoimmune diseases rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, with the goal of developing treatments that are more effective and have fewer side effects than those currently available. The center also will collaborate with scientists at the New York Genome Center, which houses genome sequencing machines, and host biennial research symposia devoted to the genomics of autoimmune disease.
In the United States, rheumatoid arthritis, which destroys joints, affects approximately three million people, while lupus, a disease that affects joints as well as skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart, and lungs, affects some six hundred thousand people.
Studies have found that certain proteins, including tumor necrosis factor and interleukin-6, are associated with rheumatoid arthritis, and researchers have used that knowledge to revolutionize patient treatment. Scientists also have identified proteins associated with lupus that have helped to advance therapies for the disease. For that reason, the center will work to understand the regulation and function of the genes associated with these proteins, as well as identify new genes associated with the two diseases.
"We are honored that the Tow Foundation has provided a generous grant to support our continued leadership in exploring the mysteries of autoimmune disease," said HSS president and CEO Louis A. Shapiro. "Thanks to the Tow Foundation's gift, our scientists and physicians will offer hope to our patients with these challenging diseases."