Essay Example on First recognized in 1933 Sjogren's Syndrome

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First recognized in 1933 Sjogren's Syndrome is a painful condition that causes severe dry eyes and dry mouth and in some cases other symptoms that can include everything from joint problems to skin rashes There's no cure or treatment for the underlying cause of this autoimmune disorder but one local researcher hopes to change that And now she's getting significant help thanks to a grant from the Rheumatology Research Foundation Darise Farris Ph D a researcher with Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation recently received the Rheumatology Research Foundation s Innovative Research Award The grant provides 400 000 over a two year period so that investigators can pursue work that might lead to breakthroughs contributing to treatments or even a cure It's very exciting because we know that we are on the right track with our studies and we re getting very promising preliminary data but we needed funding to move the work forward Farris said Painful Symptoms Sjogren's Syndrome is an autoimmune disease that is often found in conjunction with other autoimmune diseases such as arthritis and lupus Although it can affect anyone it's more prevalent in women and people over 40 In fact of the 3 million people affected in the United States it affected women by a 9 to 1 ratio The disease causes the body to attack its moisture producing glands namely the salivary glands which produce saliva and the lacrimal glands which are responsible for tear production This can interfere with the body's ability to produce saliva and tears leaving patients with dry itchy and painful eyes as well as intense dry mouth and difficulty talking chewing or swallowing 



The Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation notes that the disease can affect other areas of the body as well causing neurological problems such as memory loss and impaired concentration as well as lung problems and several other issues While there are treatments for the symptoms there is no cure and no way to address the underlying cause Farris has been researching the antigens involved in the disease for several years and in 2010 she became involved in the Sjogren's Syndrome Center of Research Translation at OMRF The center was a national institute that created a center of research for the disease To be diagnosed with Sjogren's patients typically need to have a biopsy of the salivary glands and researchers at the center received samples of these tissues for their research This led to many of the developments they ve had since 2010 and was the basis for the research they published in the journal JCI Insight This research in turn helped lead to the grant Farris received Obtaining samples of that target tissue from humans is challenging and once these samples are obtained I think it's very difficult to study the very small amounts of immune cells that are present in these tiny pieces of tissue Farris said Thanks to new technology however researchers are better able to study these tiny cells Farris is focusing her research on using this new technology to take a closer look at the cells and she says this development is a primary reason why researchers are finally getting closer to discovering the immune responses taking place in these tissues 



Mysterious Illness It's not clear why some people develop Sjogren's and others don't and Farris said one of the big questions with the disease is why it specifically targets the salivary and lacrimal glands The antibodies the body produces target proteins that are present in every cell not just in those two glands Farris and her team suspect that the autoimmune response targets something present specifically in the salivary and lacrimal glands These are what we call antigens and we believe that these proteins have not been discovered yet and this is what we re looking for Farris said To apply for the award Farris had to submit a standard research grant application that explained the potential significance of her work as well as what questions she and her team were addressing what technology they planned to use to do that and any promising preliminary studies they d conducted that suggested their work might be successful Farris is an associate member of the Arthritis Clinical Immunology Research Program at OMRF and is also an adjunct associate professor in the Departments of Microbiology and Immunology and Pathology at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center She graduated summa cum laude from Oklahoma Christian University of Science and Arts and then earned a graduate degree from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center She earned her Ph D in Immunology from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and later completed postdoctoral studies at the University of Melbourne in Australia Farris has won several honors during her scientific career including the OMRF Merrick Young Investigator Award She was also an OMRF Foundation Fellow and a National Arthritis Foundation Fellow To learn more about Sjogren's Syndrome 


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