New £1.3m grant call provides significant boost to autoimmune research

11 August 2021

A pioneering partnership between medical research charities and a charitable trust is bringing significant new investment to confront the UK’s high prevalence of autoimmune conditions.  

The Lorna and Yuti Chernajovsky Biomedical Research Foundation is working with Connect Immune Research, a coalition of medical research charities, to launch an innovative new grant call. They will provide £1.3 million of new funding for research into the underlying causes of autoimmunity.

Bowel Research UK joined Connect Immune Research in August 2021, to identify common threads in research into autoimmune conditions from diabetes and alopecia to Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis.

In all autoimmune conditions, our immune systems attack healthy cells in the body, causing symptoms that have the potential to severely limit people’s lives. They affect an estimated four million people in the UK – equivalent to more than six per cent of the population – but are currently incurable. Examples include type 1 diabetes, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, coeliac disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis and alopecia. Although these conditions affect different parts of the body, we know from observing commonalities that they are somehow linked, and that better understanding this link will pave the way to improved treatments for all autoimmune conditions.

Ian Newsome, an autoimmune patient representative, notes, “As an individual faced with more than one autoimmune health condition, I see considerable potential in taking a more holistic approach to understanding the causes and identifying treatments. I feel like a prisoner to the complex, multi-faceted health conditions that I face on a daily basis without any hope of improvement. Bringing together diverse expertise to develop creative solutions seems to be the only hope I have to unlock the cell door!”

The grant scheme aims to bring together researchers from across these autoimmune conditions to pool their knowledge and uncover common threads in their work, with the ultimate aim of developing new treatments for multiple autoimmune conditions, faster.

This first round of funding will provide up to £100,000 for 12 months to fund ‘pilot’ grants aimed at quickly developing proof of principle for potential new treatments for multiple autoimmune conditions by targeting pathways common to the different diseases. On completion, the most promising projects will be invited to apply for follow-on funding to take their work forward.

Dr Lorna Chernajovsky, co-founder and trustee of the Lorna and Yuti Chernajovsky Biomedical Research Foundation, said:

“At the Chernajovsky Foundation, our aim is to fund innovative, high-quality translational research to bring about the development of new targeted biomedical therapies to improve health. Autoimmunity encompasses a variety of conditions that potentially are driven by similar biological mechanisms. By encouraging collaboration between researchers from across the spectrum of autoimmune disease, there are substantial knowledge gains to be made with the potential of significantly improving treatments for a range of conditions.

“The Chernajovsky Foundation is delighted to partner with Connect Immune Research on this exciting new grant call. We want to encourage applications targeting biological pathways that are relevant to multiple immune-mediated inflammatory conditions and which prioritise collaboration. By championing proposals that have the potential to advance towards clinical studies, we aim to provide new impetus to research and innovation into autoimmunity, ultimately improving the lives of people living with these conditions.”

Follow this link to see full information and submit an application

You can read more about our membership of Connect Immune Research here

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