|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, December 15, 1997
Office of Scientific and Health Communications
NIH Awards Grant for First Specialized Center of Research in Scleroderma
- Researchers will conduct a search of the human genome for scleroderma-associated genes using a unique population, the Choctaw Indians of Oklahoma, who have a very high prevalence of scleroderma. Several potentially important areas of the genome seem to be associated with scleroderma and have already been identified in this group. The researchers will now look for these genetic areas in scleroderma patients of other ethnic backgrounds.
- Researchers will study the mechanisms of fibrosis, or skin thickening, in animal models of scleroderma, such as the tight skin mouse. Genes will be added to or deleted from the animals in order to pinpoint the important factors causing fibrosis.
- Researchers will study the influence of socioeconomic, genetic, and ethnic factors on scleroderma patients, including those of Native American, Mexican-American, African-American and Caucasian descent.
In addition, a special core laboratory will process and preserve DNA and skin cells from patients with scleroderma. Dr. Arnett said that this bank will be a potentially important national resource that will help many investigators study scleroderma.
"Currently there are no good treatments that halt the disease. We anticipate that research conducted by the SCOR will provide scleroderma patients and their families hope for a better future," said Dr. Arnett.
The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, a component of the National Institutes of Health, leads the Federal medical research effort in scleroderma and other rheumatic diseases, and in musculoskeletal and skin diseases. The NIAMS supports research and research training throughout the United States as well as on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland, and disseminates health and research information.