NIH News Release
NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH
National Institute of Arthritis
and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, December 21, 1999
Contact: Ray Fleming
Office of Communications and Public Liaison
(301) 496-8190
flemingr@exchange.nih.gov

NIAMS Launches Multiple Projects in Autoimmunity

The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) has awarded nearly $4 million for new projects on autoimmune diseases, conditions in which the body's immune cells mistakenly attack its own tissues and vital organs. The funds are part of a $30 million allocation from Congress to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to bolster research in autoimmunity.

The awards enhance the NIAMS' already strong commitment in this area, and involve the start-up of nine projects. These projects reflect the significant presence of the NIAMS in an NIH effort against some 80 serious, chronic, autoimmune illnesses involving almost every human organ system.

"Autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, scleroderma, alopecia areata, and many blistering skin diseases exact a huge toll in human suffering and economic costs," said NIAMS Director Stephen I. Katz, M.D., Ph.D. "But we've recently witnessed exciting research advances in several of these, and we have every intention of pushing our knowledge base further."

To extend the edge of autoimmunity research, the following projects have been funded:

Pilot Trials on Innovative Therapies for Rheumatic and Skin Diseases

Target Organ Damage in Autoimmune Diseases

Autoimmune Rat Repository and Transgenic Resource. This central resource and development center for rat models of autoimmune disorders is located on the NIH campus but may be used by the entire United States research community.

NIAMS Data Registries

The NIAMS is also participating in an additional initiative, New Imaging Technologies for Autoimmune Diseases, through a project at Louisiana State University Medical Center in New Orleans involving in vivo imaging of tiny blood vessels in animal models of rheumatoid arthritis.

To increase collaboration and communication among organizations stimulating and supporting autoimmune research, an NIH Autoimmune Diseases Coordinating Committee was established in May 1998. The NIAMS and other NIH institutes are represented on the committee, along with other federal agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration, the Veteran's Administration and several private organizations.

The mission of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) is to support research into the causes, treatment and prevention of arthritis and musculoskeletal and skin diseases, the training of basic and clinical scientists to carry out this research, and the dissemination of information on research progress in these diseases. For more information about NIAMS, call our information clearinghouse at (301) 495-4484 or visit the NIAMS web site at http://www.nih.gov/niams.