Progress in Autoimmune Diseases Research

  • Pdf File 555.74KByte

´╗┐Progress in Autoimmune Diseases Research

National Institutes of Health THE AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES COORDINATING COMMITTEE

Report to Congress

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

Progress in Autoimmune Diseases Research

National Institutes of Health THE AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES COORDINATING COMMITTEE

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

National Institutes of Health

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

March 2005

Foreword

A utoimmune diseases are a family of more than 80 chronic, and often disabling, illnesses that develop when underlying defects in the immune system lead the body to attack its own organs, tissues, and cells. While many of these dis eases are rare, collectively they affect 14.7 to 23.5 million people in this country, and ? for reasons unknown ? their prevalence is rising. Since cures are not yet available for most autoimmune diseases, patients face a lifetime of illness and treatment. They often endure debilitating symptoms, loss of organ function, reduced productivity at work, and high medical expenses. And, because most of these diseases disproportionately afflict women, and are among the leading causes of death for young and middle-aged women, they impose a heavy burden on patients' families and on society.

For these reasons, Congress commissioned the Autoimmune Diseases Coordinating Committee (ADCC) to develop a comprehensive strategic Research Plan for National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded autoimmune research with the goal of reducing the impact of autoimmune disease. Published in January 2002, the Autoimmune Diseases Research Plan was developed by ADCC members, other Federal and non-Federal experts in the field, and lay leaders in the autoimmune disease communities. It sets forth an ambitious and comprehensive research agenda aimed at generating more accurate epidemiologic profiles of autoimmune diseases; developing a greater understanding of the fundamental biologic principles underlying disease onset and progression; devising improved diagnostic tools; creating more effective interventions; and producing public and professional education and training programs.

Although it has been a short time since the Research Plan was established, we have seen significant progress in all of these areas ? progress that has resulted from the combined efforts of NIH Institutes and Centers, other Federal agencies, nonprofit and patient advo cacy groups, and partners in the private sector. This report details the progress made in NIH-funded autoimmune research since publication of the 2002 ADCC Autoimmune Diseases Research Plan.

It also identifies overarching priority areas that promise to accelerate autoimmune disease research. These areas include biomarker development, bioinformatics, and application of new technologies. The development of biomarkers can enable earlier diagnosis as well as aid physicians in selecting and monitoring treatment. New technologies, such as genomics and proteomics, provide scientists with the tools to study gene and protein patterns in tissue samples, providing vital insights into the onset and progression of disease.

Bioinformatics tools, which help scientists to assemble and analyze large amounts of data, will be particularly important in these endeavors. In many of these areas, the NIH Roadmap, which fosters trans-Institute and multidisciplinary collaboration as a way to address complex challenges in biomedical research, will synergize with the ADCC Autoimmune Diseases Research Plan.

Despite our progress, we recognize that more needs to be done so that we may close the gaps in our knowledge and achieve our overall goal of reducing the rising toll of autoimmune disease. For example, we need to gain a better understanding of the distri bution of these diseases through epidemiologic studies, and of the environmental triggers that contribute to their onset. We must work to apply the knowledge provided by the Human Genome Project toward elucidating the hereditary risks of autoimmune diseases. As we learn more about the genetic and environmental factors contributing to these diseases, we will be able to develop effective prevention strategies that arrest the autoimmune process before it can irreversibly damage the body. In tandem, we must advance the training of scientists and health care workers so that we can effectively trans late the advances in biomedical research to clinical practice.

NIH is deeply committed to supporting research and promoting progress toward con quering autoimmune diseases. The 2002 ADCC Autoimmune Diseases Research Plan provides a valuable guide to those goals. Reporting on our advances, as we do in this Progress Report, offers an opportunity to evaluate our progress, assess our path, and determine our direction for the future. Ultimately, basic and clinical research in this area will yield more effective prevention and treatment strategies for the millions who are at risk for or struggle with autoimmune diseases.

Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D. Director National Institutes of Health

................
................

Online Preview   Download

To fulfill the demand for quickly locating and searching documents.

It is intelligent file search solution for home and business.