BOSTON, June 23, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The 2016 Lupus Insight Prize was awarded today to Ann Marshak-Rothstein, PhD, University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center and Professor of Medicine/Rheumatology, University of Massachusetts Medical School, for a project with great promise to improve the treatment of lupus-related skin disease. The award was announced at FOCIS 2016, the 16th Annual Meeting of the Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies (FOCIS).
The Lupus Insight Prize is a collaborative initiative among the Alliance for Lupus Research (ALR), the Lupus Foundation of America and the Lupus Research Institute (LRI). The $200,000 Prize recognizes a major, novel insight and/or discovery that has the promise to change scientific thinking about lupus as well as a high likelihood of generating further advances in the understanding, diagnosis and treatment of the disease.
"The collegial effort among the organizations involved in the Lupus Insight Prize demonstrates the focus of all involved in accelerating progress towards better treatments and ultimately, to finding a cure for lupus," said Kenneth M. Farber, President of the Alliance for Lupus Research. "By working with these organizations and with leaders in the field of lupus research towards a common goal, we have the potential to more quickly improve the lives of those living with lupus."
Unprecedented Project Aims to Improve Treatment of Cutaneous Lupus
Dr. Marshak-Rothstein has recently generated a mouse model with symptoms that mimic the lupus-related skin disease called cutaneous lupus. With the Lupus Insight Prize, she will be able to study the disease as never before, investigating the role of two specific Toll-like receptors, TLR9 and TLR7, on different types of cells.
Approximately two-thirds of people with lupus will develop some form of cutaneous lupus. It can cause rashes, hair loss and disfiguring sores (lesions), particularly on areas exposed to the sun such as the face, ears, neck, arms, and legs. These symptoms can greatly impact self-esteem and quality of life of people with lupus.
"We congratulate Dr. Marshak-Rothstein on being awarded this year's Lupus Insight Prize," says Sandra C. Raymond, President and CEO of the Lupus Foundation of America. "There is an urgent need to better understand the causes and progression of cutaneous lupus, as well as improved outcomes for people undergoing treatment. Dr. Marshak-Rothstein's work provides a strong foundation from which further advances in understanding and treatment can be made."
"Over her 30-year career, Dr. Marshak-Rothstein has made deep and substantial contributions to advance lupus research, providing critical insight into the science underlying autoimmunity," noted Margaret G. Dowd, Lupus Research Institute President and CEO. "Specifically she pioneered novel research into proteins known as Toll-like receptors that typically allow the immune system to identify intruders like bacteria and viruses. Her cutting-edge work discovered that Toll-like receptors also recognize nucleic acids such as DNA and RNA from mammals, including humans - an important insight that furthers our understanding of how autoimmunity develops."
"I am pleased to accept this year's Lupus Insight Prize which enables my team to continue research aimed at understanding the role of specific innate immune receptors in the regulation of lupus pathogenesis and advancing more effective and less debilitating treatments for both cutaneous lupus and related rheumatologic diseases," commented Ann Marshak-Rothstein, PhD, University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center and Professor of Medicine/Rheumatology, University of Massachusetts Medical School. "Looking at the disease symptoms in animal models, we will explore the role of the sun's UV radiation, why the skin is attacked by the body's immune system and evaluate potential new therapies."
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes inflammation and tissue damage to any organ system in the body. The health effects of lupus include heart attacks, strokes, seizures, organ failure and possible death. An estimated 1.5 million Americans and at least five million people worldwide have a form of lupus.
For more information visit LupusInsightPrize.org.
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FOCIS exists to improve human health through immunology by fostering interdisciplinary approaches to understand and treat immune-based diseases.
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SOURCE Alliance for Lupus Research