ALEXANDRIA, Va., May 26, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- The Myositis Association (TMA) is excited to announce that recipients of the TMA's Innovative Research Grant, Professor Ian Hampson, Dr. Janine Lamb, and Dr. Spyridon Megremis at the University of Manchester have developed a novel approach to identify the targets of antibodies produced by the immune system in myositis patients. The results of this novel approach could prove useful in the fight against COVID-19.
Antibodies are produced against invading microbes and against self-proteins (autoantibodies). Dr. Lamb and the team analyzed antibodies and autoantibodies that accumulated throughout life in individuals with dermatomyositis, a rare autoimmune inflammatory muscle disease. Dermatomyositis is often marked by a distinctive skin rash and can affect both adults and children.
The researchers identified both microbes (including viruses, bacteria and fungi) and self-proteins targeted by the immune system that were unique or appeared in higher numbers in myositis patients as compared to healthy controls.
Their results identified an immune response in pre-pandemic myositis patients linked to their exposure to coronaviruses including SARS-Cov-2 amongst other types of virus. These findings provide novel mechanistic insights into microbial infections that may contribute over time to the development or dermatomyositis and related autoimmune musculoskeletal disease.
Dr. Janine Lamb clarifies "This was a small study carried out in 20 individuals with dermatomyositis compared to 20 healthy controls. The findings need to be extended to a larger sample of individuals with myositis, and could also be investigated in individuals with other related diseases. However, it must be remembered that identification of coronavirus antibodies in individuals with dermatomyositis compared to healthy controls, does not prove this virus causes the disease."
Finally, Dr. Lamb states, "Identification of parts of the SARS-CoV-2 sequence that generate an immune response might indicate particular targets for vaccine development against COVID-19 in the broader population."
This research was released in the publication Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. For more information, see the article: Antibodies against immunogenic epitopes with high sequence identity to SARS-CoV-2 in patients with autoimmune dermatomyositis Spyridon Megremis, Thomas D. J. Walker, Xiaotong He, William E.R. Ollier, Hector Chinoy, Lynne Hampson, Ian Hampson, Janine A. Lamb
Myositis is a rare autoimmune disease of the muscles that causes muscle damage and chronic disability. With severe weakness, pain, fatigue, debilitating skin rashes, and other often life-threatening symptoms, patients find it difficult to perform even simple day-to-day activities, including walking, climbing stairs, and raising their arms to comb their hair.
Myositis has several forms, including dermatomyositis, polymyositis, inclusion body myositis, necrotizing myopathy, and juvenile forms of the disease. Patients may also face other life-threatening disorders, such as interstitial lung disease, antisynthetase syndrome, difficulty swallowing, and a higher risk of cancer and other diseases. There is no cure.
About The Myositis Association (TMA)
The Myositis Association is the leading international nonprofit organization committed to the global community of people living with myositis, their care partners, family members, and the medical community. TMA has provided over $7million to help advance the field of myositis research and TMA provides patient education and support, advocacy, and physician education. To learn more about myositis go to www.myositis.org.
SOURCE The Myositis Association