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Areas of Focus

Therapeutic Areas of Focus

Autoimmune and Autoinflammatory Diseases

The immune system incorporates different parts of the body – including certain blood cells, skin, bone marrow and more – that work to keep you healthy. The immune system protects you from infection by detecting and fighting diseases. If infectious agents such as bacteria or viruses get into your body, immune cells usually kill or overwhelm them, removing the infection. This is known as the immune response. Autoimmune diseases are caused by an overactive immune system, which can have an effect on healthy cells and tissue.

Autoinflammatory diseases are a type of autoimmune disease that often are experienced as recurrent fevers and inflammation of skin, joints, the lining of body cavities in the abdomen, and other organs.

ARDS is a condition that causes fluid to build up in the lungs. Fluid leaks from small blood vessels and collects in tiny air sacs in the lungs, preventing them from filling with enough air. Because of this, the blood cannot pick up the oxygen it needs to carry to the rest of the body, which can result in severe damage to other organs. ARDS can get worse quickly and is sometimes life-threatening. It is generally treatable, and most patients recover; however, fast diagnosis and treatment are important.

IBD is a broad term indicating chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and includes both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. An estimated 1.6-3.1 million adults in the United States (about 1.3%) have a diagnosis of IBD. In Crohn’s disease, inflammation may affect any part of the GI tract from the mouth to the anus but most commonly affects the end of the small intestine (ileum) and the beginning of the large intestine, or colon. Inflammation of the intestine may be continuous along the length of the bowel wall or interspersed between normal tissue. Ulcerative colitis affects only the inner lining of the large intestine (colon). In ulcerative colitis, the lining of the colon becomes inflamed and develops tiny open sores or ulcers as a result of the immune system’s overactive response.

Crohn’s disease affects nearly 800,000 individuals in the United States. It is most common in individuals between ages 15-35 and occurs more commonly in women than in men. Generally, Crohn’s disease is more severe among children and adolescents than adults. Ulcerative colitiscan occur at any age, although most people receive a diagnosis in their mid-30s, with men and women affected about equally. The risk of developing ulcerative colitis is greater (up to 30%)if a first-degree relative has been diagnosed with the disease.

Still’s disease is a rare systemic inflammatory disorder affecting the entire body. The cause of the disorder is unknown (idiopathic). Affected individuals may develop episodes of high, spiking fevers, a pink or salmon colored rash, joint pain, muscle pain, a sore throat, and other symptoms associated with systemic inflammatory disease. Onset in patients younger than 16 years of age is referred to as systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis (sJIA).

Blood Cancers

All of the cells of the body have a tightly regulated system that controls their growth, maturity, reproduction, and eventual death. The many types of cancer are all caused by the uncontrolled cell growth. Most blood cancers, also called hematologic cancers, start in the bone marrow, where blood is produced. Uncontrolled growth of abnormal blood cells interrupt the function of normal blood cells, which fight off infection and produce new blood cells.

Multiple myeloma is a cancer that forms in a type of white blood cell called a plasma cell. Healthy plasma cells help the body fight infections by making antibodies that recognize and attack germs. In multiple myeloma, cancerous plasma cells accumulate in the bone marrow and crowd out healthy blood cells. These cancer cells produce abnormal proteins that can cause complications.

Rare Genetic Diseases

An estimated 25-30 million people in the United States are living with one of more than 7000 types of rare disease. Most rare diseases are thought to be directly caused by changes in genes or chromosomes. In many cases, genetic changes that cause disease are passed from one generation to the next. Many rare genetic diseases are life-threatening, and most do not have treatments.

CDG represent a large group of rare inherited diseases affecting glycosylation, the process of adding sugar-building blocks (also called glycans) to proteins or fats (lipids). When these sugar molecules are added to proteins they form glycoproteins, and when they are added to fats they form glycolipids. This process involves many different genes encoding many different proteins, such as enzymes. Not having enough of one of these enzymes can lead to many symptoms and may affect multiple organs. CDG can affect any part of the body, can have a wide variety of symptoms, and can range from mild to severe, disabling, or life-threatening. CDG are usually present from infancy. Individual CDG are caused by changes (mutations) in a specific gene.

Lymphatic malformations are rare, noncancerous masses consisting of fluid-filled channels or spaces thought to be caused by the abnormal development of the lymphatic system. These malformations are usually present at birth or by 2 years of age. Lymphatic malformations can affect any area of the body (except the brain) but most commonly affect the head and neck. When present at birth, lymphatic malformations tend to be soft, spongy, nontender masses. Symptoms and severity vary based on the size and location of the mass. Regardless of size, lymphatic malformations may cause functional impairment of nearby structures or organs and disfigurement of affected areas.