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Connect Immune Research - a new initiative to support autoimmune research

The British Society for Immunology is delighted to be a supporting partner of a brand new scientific initiative called Connect Immune Research.  Along with our partners, JDRF, Versus Arthritis and MS Society, we aim to support research into the underlying causes of autoimmunity, and work together to allow research into autoimmune diseases to progress faster.

Why autoimmune conditions?

Four million people – almost one in every 16 of people in the UK – live with an autoimmune condition causing them pain, difficulty, lost opportunities in work and in life, and in many cases placing them at risk of early death. There have been over 80 autoimmune conditions identified, each affecting different parts of the body. Additionally, having one autoimmune condition makes developing another more likely – up to a third of the four million people affected live with more than one condition. This can lead to health and care needs that are more complex and lives that are more challenging.

Connect Immune Research

We hope our new collaboration – called Connect Immune Research – will radically change how autoimmune conditions are researched and understood. By bringing together scientists with expertise in different conditions, we hope that we can facilitate the faster progression of research, dramatically reducing costs and speeding up development of diagnostics and treatments for the millions of people living with different autoimmune conditions.

Dr Doug Brown, our Chief Executive, said: “Immunology is a vital branch of medical science in which the UK leads the world with new discoveries. Connect Immune Research will exploit this UK strength by bringing together the best brains in immunology to study different autoimmune diseases together. This is just the start of a brand new approach to immunology research and will, with even more support, lead to us transforming the lives of people living with autoimmune conditions.” 

To prove that this approach has the potential we believe it does, Connect Immune Research has recently announced the recipient of its first research grant. Professor Yanick Crow from the University of Edinburgh and his team will work on a project titled “Precision type I interferon biomarkers for the stratification of autoimmune disease” with the aim to measure interferon levels in different autoimmune conditions to better understand the relationship between interferon and autoimmunity.

Collaborative effects

Our aims through supporting Connect Immune Research are two-fold.  Firstly, we hope that bringing together researchers from different expertise areas to study the mechanisms of autoimmunity in a non-condition-specific way will lead to a change in the way autoimmune conditions are researched and understood. This is the first time charities have joined forces in this way and support from Wellcome and the Medical Research Council (MRC) in the development of Connect Immune Research, demonstrates the critical need for this work. Secondly, we wish to increase comprehension of autoimmunity itself amongst the public and policymakers, placing ourselves and immunologists at the forefront of both public and scientific debate about treatment and prevention of autoimmune conditions.

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