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In This Issue
Scleroderma May Be Initiated By Cancer
Researchers Prevent and Reverse Fibrosis
Scientists Create a New Technique for Epigenomic Mapping
Scientists Halt Deadly Organ Tissue Scarring
2013 Webinars
Happy New Year
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Insights eNewsletter
Dear ,

This has been a banner year for scleroderma research and, in this issue of Insights eNewsletter, we share some of the 2013 research highlights that your kindness and generosity have made possible.
Scleroderma May Be Initiated By Cancer
In early December we reported that SRF-funded researchers at The Johns Hopkins University have discovered that some cases of scleroderma are likely to have been initiated by cancer. In a landmark paper published online on December 5 in Science, researchers focusing on a select group of patients with both scleroderma and cancer discovered that the patients' immune response to a mutated protein in their tumors resulted in autoimmunity once the immune response spread to the non-mutated form of the protein. This major insight into the origins of autoimmunity in scleroderma may also have ramifications for other autoimmune diseases. Read the full release. 
Researchers Prevent and Reverse Fibrosis in a Mouse Model of Stiff Skin Syndrome; Study Shows Promise for Scleroderma
Dr. Hal Dietz and his team at The Johns Hopkins University have made a key discovery that may have broad implications for future scleroderma therapy. In a report in the November 7, 2013 print issue of the premier scientific journal, Nature, the researchers demonstrated that integrin-modulating agents (integrins are molecular receptors that mediate the attachment between a cell and its surroundings) can stop fibrosis in a genetic mouse model of scleroderma-like skin and, more strikingly, that established fibrosis can actually be reversed by the same agents. The Scleroderma Research Foundation has supported the work for the past six years. Read more. 
SRF-Funded Scientists Create Technique for High-Speed, Low-Cost Epigenomic Mapping

A new technique developed by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine could pave the way to an era of personalized epigenomics.


The technique, described in a study published online October 6 in Nature Methods, could quickly yield huge amounts of useful information about which genes are active in particular cells. The technology involved is inexpensive, fast and easy to use, and all that would be needed from the patient is a blood sample or needle biopsy.


As word of the new technique has leaked, dozens of researchers around the world have begun putting it to work in their labs, said SRF-funded investigator Howard Chang, MD, PhD, professor of dermatology at Stanford and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute early-career scientist. Read more. 
Scientists Halt Deadly Organ Tissue Scarring in its Tracks
UCSF-Led Study Uses Drug to Target Fibrosis of Lungs, Liver and Kidney

UC San Francisco scientists report that they were able to arrest, and even reverse, tissue scarring of the liver, kidneys and lungs in mice. The scarring, also known as fibrosis, is a major factor in nearly half of all deaths in developed countries.


"Scarring is a critical component of organ dysfunction in most chronic diseases - kidney failure, liver failure, lung failure, heart failure," said [SRF-funded investigator] Dean Sheppard, MD, UCSF professor of medicine and senior author of the new study. "But there's no effective therapy for tissue scarring that's approved by the FDA [Food and Drug Administration]. Although scarring contributes to the progression of all these diseases, we currently have no way to treat it."  Read more.  


For more news from the research front click here.  

2013 Webinars
Our continuing webinar series provided a wealth of information for scleroderma patients and those who care for them. In case you missed a session or would like more information, here's a listing of the 2013 webinars:


Speaker: Dinora Dominguez, BS, RN - National Institutes of Health  

Title: Clinical Trials: Consider the Possibilities    


Speaker: Monique Hinchcliff, MD, MS - Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Title: Systemic Sclerosis: A Treatable Multi-System Disease


Speaker: Lorinda Chung, MD, MS - Stanford University School of Medicine 

Title: Skin Manifestations in Scleroderma 


Speaker: Laura Hummers, MD - Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Title: What's New in the World of Scleroderma 


Speaker: Pankaj (Jay) Pasricha, MD - Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Title: GI Complications and Treatments in Scleroderma 


Remember that these and others in our expanding library are all available to you for immediate download at no cost.

Happy New Year


Thank you for supporting our work and helping to discover better treatments and a cure for patients with scleroderma. The SRF is America's leading nonprofit investor in scleroderma research and we couldn't do it without you.


If you haven't already, please download our 2013 Annual Report to read more about the SRF research program and projects currently being supported.


Of course, we also encourage you to make a final 2013 donation online today in honor or in memory of a scleroderma patient. Your gift is entirely tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.


May the New Year bring happiness, better health and more new treatments for scleroderma...


Amy Hewitt

Executive Director

Scleroderma Research Foundation

Make a Donation 1-800-441-CURE (2873)