Autoimmune Disorders

Biomarker study in inflammatory bowl disease

Shabana F. Pasha, M.D., is researching Crohn's disease, which causes inflammation of the digestive tract, and can lead to abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss and malnutrition. She has requested samples from 100 Biobank participants without a history of inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease or irritable bowel syndrome to compare with patients who have Crohn's disease whom she has recruited through a separate study.

Dr. Pasha's goal is to identify specific antibodies against human proteins in patients with Crohn's disease and determine if these antibodies can differentiate inflammatory bowel disease from healthy individuals; and differentiate between aggressive and nonaggressive Crohn's disease.

Neuromyeltis optica

Sean J. Pittock, M.D., is researching an inflammatory disease of the central nervous system that causes swelling and inflammation of the eye nerves and the spinal cord (neuromyelitis optica, or NMO). NMO is commonly misdiagnosed as multiple sclerosis. He has requested samples from 465 Biobank participants. He is researching the presence of NMO in Olmsted County, Minnesota, and hopes to estimate the rate of misdiagnosis. His goal is to improve diagnosis and treatment of NMO.

Mechanisms of pregnancy-driven tolerance in rheumatoid arthritis

Shreyasee Amin, M.D., M.P.H., is researching rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in pregnancy. She has requested samples from 40 Biobank participants who are pregnant without rheumatoid arthritis to compare with pregnant women who had rheumatoid arthritis through pregnancy and postpartum whom she has recruited through a separate study.

RA is an autoimmune inflammatory arthritis that affects approximately 1 percent of the population. In young women with RA, their symptoms frequently improve spontaneously during pregnancy only to worsen after delivery. Dr. Amin is studying samples from healthy women without RA at different stages of pregnancy. By examining protein levels during pregnancy in women without RA, she hopes to identify proteins expressed specifically in healthy pregnancy and compare them to those that play a role in the improvement of symptoms in pregnant women with RA.

Impact of cytomegalovirus on rheumatoid arthritis: A pilot study

John M. Davis III, M.D., is researching rheumatoid arthritis. He is trying to determine whether history of exposure to cytomegalovirus, a common virus with few symptoms, has any bearing on development of rheumatoid arthritis. He has requested samples from 100 Biobank participants for his study, some of whom have rheumatoid arthritis (cases) and some of whom do not (controls).

Detection of bullous pemphigoid

Michael J. Camilleri, M.D., is working to develop a new test to detect a specific antibody known as anti-bullous pemphigoid IgE to diagnose a skin disease called bullous pemphigoid. This skin disorder is an autoimmune condition most common in the elderly. It is characterized by intense itching and burning of the skin followed by blistering.

He has requested serum samples from 50 Biobank participants without a history of skin disease, other immune disease or steroid treatments to compare with patients who have bullous pemphigoid whom he has recruited through a separate study. His goal is to develop a new test that could be used clinically in the future to identify this disease and may help to guide treatment.