Rheumatology

Significant Accomplishments

New Therapies for Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA)

Phase 3 clinical trials were published by Daniel Lovell, MD, MPH, and Hermine Brunner, MD, MSc, MBA, as contributors to large collaborator studies, for treatments of the systemic form of JIA that block the cytokines IL-1 and IL-6, respectively, canakinumab and tocilizumab. These therapies are highly effective for the systemic form of JIA, which accounts for 75 percent of the deaths associated with JIA.

New Informatic Tools

Transcription factors are very important in the coordination of gene expression, making possible nearly all cellular processes. Understanding the precise sequence that they bind in DNA is important to explaining how healthy cellular processes occur (growth, division, differentiation) as well as pathological processes (cancer, anemia, inflammation). Matthew Weirauch, PhD, with colleagues in Toronto evaluated the relative merit of alternative ways of evaluating the transcription factor binding, leading to important methodologic advances for understanding these enigmatic and critically important proteins.

Micro-RNAs in Inflammation

Small RNAs called micro-RNAs appear to inhibit the expression of specific genes in cells. Nan Shen, MD and John Harley, MD, PhD have collaborated with scientists in China to explore the properties of these enigmatic molecules in inflammation. Their work shows that micro-RNA 31 contributes to the impaired production of the cytokine IL-2 in systemic lupus erythematosus. They also show that the cytokine IL-17 contributes to autoimmune pathogenesis by suppressing the expression of micro-RNA 23b, which is in turn inhibits expression of IL-17, TNFα, and IL-1β making a complex web of gene expression control.