National Autoimmunity Research Award awarded to i3S group
The discovery of a molecular biomarker for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus earned the group led by Salomé Pinho the National Autoimmunity Research Award, awarded by the Nucleus for the Study of Autoimmune Diseases (NEDAI) of the Portuguese Society of Internal Medicine (SPMI).
The prize, worth five thousand euros, was presented at the closing session of the VII National Autoimmunity Congress | XXVI Annual Meeting of NEDAI, in June this year, for work recently published in Arthritis and Rheumatology (the official journal of the American College of Rheumatology), which is one of the most prestigious scientific journals in the field of autoimmune diseases.
In this award-winning work, the team of scientists demonstrated that patients with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) exhibit atypical composition of sugars (glycans) on the surface of kidney cells, which translates into a unique molecular signature. The discovery of this biomarker “not only facilitates the diagnosis of the disease, but also has a prognostic value by allowing us to know in advance who will develop a complicated disease, and act in a timely manner, thus avoiding more serious situations, such as the progressive and irreversible loss of the function of the kidney”, explains Inês Alves, 4th year student of the Doctoral Program in Biomedicine at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Porto (FMUP) and first author of the paper.
The group of researchers, led by Salomé Pinho, from i3S, in collaboration with the University Hospital Center of Porto (CHUP), the University Hospital Center of São João (CHUSJ) and the University Hospital Center of Coimbra (CHUC), used kidney samples from patients with SLE and who had the kidney affected (glomerulonephritis/lupus nephritis) and identified in these samples an unusual composition of sugar (glycan) structures. The researchers showed that this altered expression of glycans on the surface of kidney cells in these patients appears to be a key part of an abnormal recognition by the immune system, triggering an exacerbated inflammatory response in the kidney, characteristic of this autoimmune disease.
The i3S research group led by Salomé Pinho has dedicated its research to the study of the role of glycans (sugars) in diseases such as cancer, inflammatory bowel disease and other autoimmune diseases such as lupus.
About the National Autoimmunity Research Award
Created in 2005 by the Nucleus for the Study of Autoimmune Diseases (NEDAI) of the Portuguese Society of Internal Medicine (SPMI), the National Autoimmunity Research Award aims to reward basic and clinical research work on autoimmunity carried out in Portugal or by groups of researchers including Portuguese doctors.