Vasculitis Research underway at the University of Aberdeen

It’s been 6 months since the vasculitis research programme began at the University of Aberdeen, following part funding by the Lauren Currie Twilight Foundation. It is from here that I will be giving you updates about this research and my experiences throughout. At the beginning of the study there was a press release briefly explaining the research, of which I’ve copied the link – http://www.abdn.ac.uk/news/details-13390.php.

I graduated from my undergraduate degree in Physiology, also from the University of Aberdeen, in June last year, returning soon after to begin my career in research as a PhD student. This opportunity is afforded to me, partly by the Lauren Currie Twilight Foundation and the fundraising efforts of all those involved. This means that for the next 3 years I will be dedicated to discovering new things about vasculitis, in an effort to improve understanding of the disease and consequently the lives of patients.
We will be focusing on ANCA-associated Vasculitis and patients with Wegener’s Granulomatosis, Microscopic Polyangiitis or Churg-Strauss Syndrome, who have met the study criteria, may have already agreed to be part of the study. Patients will give a blood sample and from this I will isolate immune cells, as well as ANCA antibodies.

The interactions these cells make with each other, and also other cell types, will be imaged live in 3D. Seeing how these cells interact can give clues as to how to tackle the disease.
As I’m sure the majority of those reading will personally know, the treatment for vasculitides, although very effective, can cause a multitude of serious long and short term side effects. It is our aim to discover novel treatments and possible biomarkers that can be used to minimise the exposure of vasculitis patients to toxic therapies. We want to identify characteristics that can tell treating physicians more about the disease activity in the patients. By doing so, it can be predicted when a patient has entered a period of remission and can therefore have their medication reduced. The same is true if a patient shows they may be vulnerable to relapse, then again medication can be increased to prevent another attack of the disease. Reducing the time a patient is on such medication would result in a reduction of side effects and an increased Quality of Life.

I hope that you will enjoy the updates about our research and any questions you have please let me know and I’ll be happy to answer them for you.

Catriona

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