Milestones in TMA Funded Research

It has been fifteen years since the Myositis Association started funding research designed to understand the underlying causes and natural progression of myositis, develop better treatments and more effective therapies, and ultimately to create a cure for this collection of disabling diseases. In that time, TMA has approved 53 research projects, including grants and fellowships, totaling nearly $7 million.

Funds for this research effort come to TMA primarily from myositis patients, their families, and friends. Each year, proposals are sought for basic and applied research projects as well as applications for fellowships from young scientists who have an interest in a career studying myositis. Based on recommendations from TMA’s Medical Advisory Board of international myositis experts, TMA’s Board of Directors chooses the most promising of these proposals to fund.

This year, the following projects were awarded funding:

Melissa Morales, PhD – $100,000 fellowship to search for urine biomarkers in juvenile dermatomyositis

Tahseen Mozaffar, MBBS – $50,000 grant to complete a phase I study of dalazatide in sporadic inclusion body myositis

Simon Rothwell, PhD – $100,000 fellowship to conduct high resolution cellular phenotyping of myositis patients starting rituximab therapy

Victoria Werth, MD – $100,000 grant to explore IL-31 and its mechanism of action in the itch associated with dermatomyositis

Research funded by TMA has greatly added to the understanding of underlying causes and treatment possibilities for all forms of myositis. Over the years, TMA-funded researchers have advanced the science of myositis in the following areas:

EPIDEMIOLOGY

• Created databases and developed research cohorts to better investigate the patterns of disease and best treatment options
• Evaluated clinical and biological data to develop a predictive model of clinical disease
• Analyzed genetic associations and identified new genetic markers for myositis

PATHOPHYSIOLOGY

• Explored a wide range of immune system variables to identify causal relationships and therapeutic targets
• Identified underlying mechanisms for myositis symptoms and the disease process

TREATMENT

• Tested a variety of therapeutic possibilities, including stem cells, creatine supplementation, diet and exercise, and follistatin
• Developed and tested several clinical assessment tools to more accurately measure function and disease improvement
• Worked with IBM patients to evaluate methods of bracing to improve movement and stability

Projects supported by TMA’s Research Grant Program

Myositis, All Forms
Inclusion body myositis
Dermatomyositis, polymyositis and necrotizing myopathy
Juvenile dermatomyositis