The Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation is joining 31 other research institutions, hospitals and clinics as a founding member of the Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research’s Global Sarcoidosis Clinic Alliance.
Sarcoidosis is a poorly understood, painful condition where cells in the immune system that cause inflammation overreact and cluster together to form tiny lumps. These cell clumps can develop in the eyes, liver, skin and brain but most often are found in the lungs. If too many form in a single organ, they can cause it to malfunction or even fail.
People of African descent are three times more likely to be diagnosed with sarcoidosis than Caucasians and tend to have more severe symptoms. The condition affects as many as 200,000 Americans but is often misdiagnosed. One goal of the new alliance is to make diagnosis easier.
“This alliance will help patients find the care they need as well as opportunities to participate in research that allows scientists to better understand their condition,” said OMRF scientist Courtney Montgomery, Ph.D., who leads OMRF’s Sarcoidosis Research Unit. “It also allows clinicians and researchers to interact, which inevitably will improve care for people with this rare, neglected disease.”
Scientists, physicians and nurses dedicated to improving sarcoidosis treatment make up OMRF’s research unit. Montgomery’s lab is focused on understanding genetic and environmental risk factors for sarcoidosis, while OMRF’s Umesh Deshmukh, Ph.D., is working to develop new research models to understand how the disease first develops and progresses.
Montgomery noted the alliance will also enable extensive research collaborations among fellow founding member institutions like Cleveland Clinic, Johns Hopkins Medicine and Stanford Medicine.
“The quality of life of approximately 1.2 million sarcoidosis patients impacted by sarcoidosis worldwide depends on a true global collaborative,” said Mary McGowan, CEO of the Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research. “That’s exactly what this alliance is all about.”
For information about OMRF’s sarcoidosis research, visit www.omrf.org/sarc.