Milestones in TMA Funded Research

Since 2002, The Myositis Association has funded 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.

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, TMA’s Board of Directors chooses the most promising of these proposals to fund.

Two projects were selected in 2023 for funding in 2024-2025.

Julio Huapaya, MD, MHS, a pulmonary and critical care fellow at the National Institutes of Health and a postdoctoral researcher at Johns Hopkins Interstitial Lung Disease and Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Program, was awarded a two-year, $100,000 fellowship grant. His project will measure autoantibody levels in the blood of patients with interstitial lung disease (ILD) using a new testing method.

Neurologist Merrilee Needham, MBBS, PhD, who leads the Myositis Research Group at the Perron Institute and serves in a number of consulting and teaching positions in the Perth area of Western Australia, was awarded a two-year pilot grant of $200,000. Her project aims to use deep learning predictive modeling to analyze muscle biopsy samples donated by individuals who have been diagnosed with inclusion body myositis to try to identify what specific proteins in the muscles trigger the autoimmune attack against muscle cells.

Two projects were selected in 2022 for funding in 2023-2024.

Begum Horuluoglu, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in the Division of Rheumatology at Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, was awarded a fellowship of $100,000 to explore the mechanisms behind why the human immune system mistakenly attacks muscle cells in the autoimmune disease of myositis.

Sarah Tansley, BSc, MBChB, PhD, senior clinical lecturer in rheumatology at the University of Bath in the UK, was awarded a pilot grant of $200,000 to study variability among laboratories for myositis autoantibody testing and to develop a protocol for more reliable identification of these important biomarkers found in the blood of patients with myositis.

Two grants were selected in 2021 for funding in 2022-2023.

Chiseko Ikenaga MD, PhD has been granted $100,000 in fellowship support over a two year period at Johns Hopkins University.  Dr. Ikenaga’s project seeks to identify potential novel biomarkers for Inclusion Body Myositis.   This project will compare the genes present in IBM muscle cells to those present in healthy/control muscle cells.  If successful, this research may identify genes that are markers for the disease and that could enable earlier diagnosis and a means to measure disease severity over time.

A pilot study grant of $200,000 has been provided to Kanneboyina Nagaraju, DVM, PhD of Binghamton University in New York.  Dr. Nagarahu’s research will focus on inflammatory muscle changes seen in Dermatomyositis and Polymyositis and their similarity to those seen in viral infections.  The study will evaluate whether this inflammation can be blocked using viral proteins.  If successful, it could open up a new strategy for potential treatments.

In the 2020 grant cycle, TMA selected the following research studies for funding starting in 2021:

Mazen Dimachkie MD, professor of Neurology at the University of Kansas, was awarded $200,000 for IBM research. Dr. Dimachkie will work with international IBM investigators on a randomized, double-blind, controlled Phase III trial of Sirolimus in sporadic IBM. The funding will be used over the course of two years, collaborates with research in France and Australia, and supports U.S. study sites Kansas and Maryland.

A fellowship of $100,000 over two years was awarded to Dr. Alexander Oldroyd for a project at the University of Manchester. Dr. Oldroyd’s project is at the Center for Epidemiology Versus Arthritis. TMA funds will support remote continuous disease activity monitoring in DM and PM by monitoring gait and daily symptoms.

Additional projects supported by TMA’s Research Grant Program

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