January 2013 Progress Update

We would like to thank all of our subjects who have participated in our ongoing studies. Nothing could have been accomplished without your involvement!

Research Findings

  • First, we have identified that specific cells of the immune system, called natural killer T cells, are very low in the circulation of patients with sarcoidosis.
  • We have also identified that these cells do not function well in sarcoidosis.
  • We have linked this abnormal function to a molecule that has been shown to dampen the function of T cells generally. This finding is important because there are experimental medications that block this molecule and future studies may be able to study this medication in sarcoidosis.
  • We have also identified that there are different inflammatory patterns activated in patients with sarcoidosis (we are now trying to do more studies to understand what this means in terms of whether sarcoidosis resolves or continues to be active).
  • We have identified that many patients with sarcoidosis have multiple neurologic symptoms and symptoms of depression. These findings are going to be further studied by a neurologist at UCSF who has a special interest in neurosarcoidosis.

What can we do with this information?

These discoveries are critically important for many reasons:

  • They improve awareness of the biological processes that are altered in sarcoidosis so that drug companies can find new medications to beat the inflammation in sarcoidosis.
  • They give us hope that in the future we might have better tests to diagnose sarcoidosis as well as help doctors figure out which patients might go on to have more severe forms of disease, so they can act earlier and monitor patients better.
  • These findings can help educate doctors about the symptoms that patients with sarcoidosis suffer from so they may be better in finding ways to alleviate the suffering.
  • These findings also show researchers where to focus their efforts in future studies to understand the disease.The goal we are all working for is to find a cure and stop the suffering!

Where are we going from here?

  • Because we have discovered so much this far, we are planning to continue the study to collect samples and clinical information.
  • We were just awarded a grant which will allow us to study relapses or "flares" of sarcoidosis.
  • We would also like to work towards organizing a "Sarcoidosis Education Seminar" for patients and study participants.
  • We are also one of 7 research centers across the US that have been asked to participate in the NIH-funded study called "GRADS" which is trying to understand the link between microorganisms and sarcoidosis. More information about this study can be found at this website: www.gradslung.org