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2016 Lupus Insight Prize recognizes cutaneous lupus research

Photo courtesy of the University of Massachusetts

The Lupus Insight Prize for 2016 has been awarded to Ann Marshak-Rothstein, PhD, for research that may potentially improve the treatment of cutaneous lupus.

Dr. Marshak-Rothstein is a professor of Medicine and Rheumatology at the University at Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, Mass. The research that is being recognized was published in the Journal of Immunology (Mar. 2015; 194(6):2504–2512). In that study, Dr. Marshak-Rothstein and colleagues generated a mouse model with symptoms that mimic cutaneous lupus.

With the Lupus Insight Prize worth $200,000, Dr. Marshak-Rothstein and her team will be able to investigate the role of two specific Toll-like receptors, TLR9 and TLR7, on different types of cells.

Dr. Marshak-Rothstein noted the prize would enable her team to research the role of specific innate immune receptors in the regulation of lupus, advancing more effective and less debilitating treatments for cutaneous lupus and related diseases.

“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,” said Dr. Marshak-Rothstein.

The Lupus Insight Prize was presented to Dr. Marshak-Rothstein during the 16th Annual Meeting of the Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies (FOCIS). This award is a collaborative initiative among the Alliance for Lupus Research (ALR), the Lupus Foundation of America, and the Lupus Research Institute (LRI).

The award recognizes a major, novel insight 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.

“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,” Dowd added.

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