Ongoing studies and projects in the Thyroid Eye Research Program at Mayo Clinic are aimed at better understanding the prevalence and mechanisms of thyroid eye disease (Graves' disease), assessing patients' treatment needs, and testing new treatments in clinical trials. This work includes:

  • Therapeutic intervention clinical trials. Researchers are conducting and creating therapeutic intervention clinical trials.
    • The program is conducting a multicenter clinical trial to test how a drug that decreases levels of the antibodies that attach to the thyroid-stimulating hormone receptor (TSHr) — an essential component of the disease mechanism — may benefit patients with thyroid eye disease.
    • Researchers are also collaborating with the manufacturer of teprotumumab in planning clinical trials that would test this drug in different groups of patients with thyroid eye disease than those currently evaluated.
  • TSHr antibody assay evaluation. The Thyroid Eye Disease Research Program is testing a new assay for the more precise measurement of TSHr antibodies.
  • Epidemiological research. Building on previous work using the Rochester Epidemiology Project, researchers are improving knowledge about the incidence of new cases and prevalence of total cases of thyroid eye disease a year.
  • Tissue biobanking. Mayo Clinic is developing a tissue biobank to support further research on the mechanisms of thyroid eye disease by collecting tissue from patient volunteers undergoing orbital decompression.
  • Guidelines for surgery. Investigators are evaluating what degree of eye asymmetry from bulging (proptosis) is recognizable to the general public in order to determine which patients may benefit most from surgery.

Future research

The program is planning several research efforts aimed at improving care and quality of life for people with thyroid eye disease, including studies on:

  • Quality of life. Researchers aim to expand the use of quality-of-life scores in understanding the burden of disease in patients with thyroid eye disease.
  • Selenium treatment. The program plans to evaluate the benefits of using selenium to treat patients with thyroid eye disease in the United States, as the only available data come from Europe, where selenium sufficiency levels are significantly lower.
  • Industry collaborations. The Thyroid Eye Disease Research Program is planning to collaborate with manufacturers that are developing drugs to further block TSHr or TSHr antibodies.

Research background

Mayo Clinic has been at the forefront of clinical research on thyroid eye disease for the last three decades, providing a strong foundation for the Thyroid Eye Disease Research Program's current and future field-leading work. Previous research highlights include: