A new partnership between two major players in autoimmune disease research recently hit the news. The American Autoimmune Related Disease Association (AARDA) announced a partnership with Allegheny Health Network (AHN). Together, the two groups will study the costs patients face when living with autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis. Keep reading to learn more, or follow the story here at Multiple Sclerosis News.
Multiple sclerosis is a disease in which a person’s immune system targets their own body. The immune response turns inwards and targets the protective coating around nerve cells. This coating, known as myelin, is essential for the transmission of signals between cells. The underlying cause of multiple sclerosis is unknown. Common symptoms include muscle weakness, numbness, loss of coordination, and problems with speech, and vision. Click here to learn more about Multiple Sclerosis.
AARDA and AHN will not, however, solely focus on multiple sclerosis. There are over 100 identified autoimmune diseases. Crohn’s, Lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis are just a few of the other conditions which the two groups will study.
The move to team up comes shortly after AHN opened its Pittsburgh-based Autoimmunity Institute. The new facility is a research center covering multiple specialties and disciplines.
This multidisciplinary approach fulfills a great need in the patient community, says AARDA’s executive director. The director explained that the current health system is highly compartmentalized. This works against autoimmune patients who often require visits to multiple specialists across different fields. As an example, the director states that statistically autoimmune patients typically visit four physicians over a three year period just to receive an accurate diagnosis.
This also provides a reason for AARDA to provide strong diagnostic service at the Autoimmunity Institute. One of AARDA’s biggest long term goals has always been to establish such a research for the autoimmune patient population. The group is hopeful, however, that the legacy of the Autoimmunity Institute will not end there. AARDA’s new goal is for the institute to become a model for researchers and medical professionals nationwide. They hope to see similar facilities appear in other regions to continue serving a larger and larger percentage of their patient population.