This week, Connect Immune Research launched a new report “Are you #AutoimmuneAware?” to highlight the need for greater recognition and investment for autoimmune conditions as a distinct research area, alongside the likes of cancer, infectious disease and dementia. Connect Immune Research is a first-of-its-kind coalition between JDRF, MS Society and Versus Arthritis, supported by the British Society for Immunology, to promote a multi-disciplinary approach to autoimmune research, and grow funding and research infrastructure in order to develop new treatment and diagnosis options. Today, we will join with our partner charities and with people living with autoimmune conditions from across the UK to attend the launch of the #AutoimmuneAware report in Parliament.
During the event, our aim is to put autoimmunity centre-stage and engage with many MPs and sector leaders to explain the UK’s world-leading contribution to autoimmune research and why a joined-up approach to studying the underlying causes of autoimmune disease could allow research to progress faster, reducing costs and speeding up development of treatments for people with autoimmune conditions. Professor Daniel Davis, of The University of Manchester commented, “Bringing together autoimmune charities and research teams to tackle the underlying causes of autoimmune conditions is a no-brainer. The immune system is today one of the best understood parts of the human body. With so many details in hand, and so many new medicines being developed to nudge the power of immunity up or down, the time is right for us to come together to try and defeat autoimmune disease once and for all.”
The report shows that currently the direct and indirect costs to the UK for just three autoimmune conditions alone – type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis – add up to more than £13 billion per year. With many autoimmune conditions becoming more common, autoimmunity deserves greater recognition and investment, along with a change in the way the research is approached to yield greater benefits for patients.
There are four million people in the UK known to be living with at least one autoimmune condition. Autoimmune conditions see the body’s immune system mistakenly attack healthy cells and tissues in the body. Examples include type 1 diabetes, coeliac disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), psoriasis, and rheumatoid arthritis. But the Connect Immune Research report highlights the often unreported fact that up to a third of the four million often live with more than one autoimmune condition.
Dr Doug Brown, Chief Executive of the British Society for Immunology said, “The UK is a world leader in immunology research and we must ensure this excellence is reflected in the therapies that we can provide to patients in the clinic. The past decade has seen significant and exciting advances in our knowledge of how the immune system functions, highlighting new research avenues that we can explore to improve diagnosis, treatment and even prevention of autoimmune diseases.
“With the current rise in the number of people living with autoimmune conditions, Connect Immune Research aims to bring together researchers and funders who work on these different conditions to pool knowledge, exploiting the UK’s strength in this area, which we hope will lead to us transforming the lives of people living with autoimmune conditions.”
What you can do?
Please join us in spreading the message and harnessing the support of Government to support our campaign:
- Raise awareness: declare you are #AutoimmuneAware on your social media channels
- Write to your MP to highlight the need to help link research across autoimmune conditions
Find out more
- Read our report
- Read the full press release
- Read more information on the first grant funded through this initiative
- Read the recent article on Connect Immune Research from our magazine Immunology News
- If you have any queries on this initiative, please email Jennie Evans