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Cure JM Board Approves a New Round of Research Grants

An Update from Executive Director James Minow

Executive Director James Minow

We have more exciting news on the research front than we have room to print, and I am pleased nevertheless to provide a brief update on all that is being accomplished. Most importantly, thank you for your steadfast financial support, because without it, none of this progress would be possible.

The Cure JM Board of Directors has recently approved a round of new grants. In my view, these grants are moving us in some exciting new directions in JM research, building on the important work that we have funded over the past 14 years.

Today, we must develop a more comprehensive understanding of the genetic causes of JM, and to build the “genetic discovery” area of our research portfolio. To accomplish this, we’ve made recent grants to Dr. Claire Deakin to assess genetic risk factors in JDM from a large cohort of DNA samples; to Dr. Paul Norman, who is investigating the entire HLA genomic region implicated in JM; and to Dr. Rebecca Nicolai who will measure interferon gene expression in JDM muscle. Each of these research projects share a common goal of advancing genetic discovery which will one day lead to more targeted drug and therapeutic treatments.

Dr. Deakin is Post-Doctoral Fellow at University College, London, Dr. Norman is a Senior Research Scientist in the Department of Structural Biology at Stanford University School of Medicine, and Dr. Nicolai is rheumatology clinician/researcher at Bambino Gesu Hospital, in Rome, Italy.

Research conducted in Sweden and Europe by Dr. Ingrid Lundberg and others points to the therapeutic benefits of exercise in treatment of juvenile myositis and related myopathies. Measuring improvements among large cohorts of patients (beyond just those participating in the study) may well be possible by using Personal Activity Monitors (Fitbits) as validated measurement tools for physical activity and strength. Cure JM is funding Dr. Emily Brunner, a Rheumatology Fellow at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, to create this measurement tool as an important and useful scoring tool that can be used by patients as well as for future clinical trials requiring outcome measurements.

Finally, Cure JM is launching three-year Drug Discovery partnership with the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences at NIH. The Center is led by Dr. Jim Inglese. Cure JM’s funding supports a dedicated postdoctoral fellow and an NCATS research team that will screen hundreds of thousands of drug compounds as well as existing FDA-approved drugs currently used in the treatment of other diseases, to determine their possible usage in the treatment of JM. They will then perform follow-up studies on the most promising drugs, with a goal of developing a short list of new and re-purposed drugs that have the potential to provide alternative and improved treatments for JM. This project was made possible through the generous support of a JM grandmother and Leadership Council member Marge Coffey.

For more information on these research initiatives as well as others funded my Cure JM, please go to our website, www.CureJM.org. I’ll highlight several of our other new research initiatives in our next newsletter -- there is much exciting progress to report.

And again, please accept my heartfelt thanks for your financial support and for being an active member of the Cure JM family. I know that we will one day -- and hopefully one day soon -- solve the riddle of what causes JM so we can accelerate the work of finding better treatments and a cure. Your support is what makes this progress possible.

With appreciation,

Jim

Jim Minow
Executive Director

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