Dr. Halima Moncreiffe is an assistant professor at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, and she focuses on autoimmune diseases. She recently participated in an interview with Front Line Genomics, in which she discusses the work she does, some of the knowledge behind autoimmune diseases, and the Festival of Genomics. She also mentions one of her major goals: curing juvenile idiopathic arthritis.
About Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) is a form of inflammation in the joints that sees its onset in the early stages of life without a known origin. There are multiple forms of this condition, such as systemic JIA and psoriatic JIA.
JIA is an autoimmune disorder, meaning that the immune system attacks itself by mistake. The joints are targeted in those with JIA, although the reason for the malfunction of the system is unknown.
Despite the fact that there are many forms of JIA, there are common symptoms. The major effect is inflammation in the joints, which can result in swelling, stiffness, inflammation, and a limited range of motion in the joints. Other symptoms include rashes, fevers, swollen lymph nodes, and eye inflammation. Growth problems are a possible effect of JIA as well. These symptoms are not usually constant; there are periods of remission and active symptoms.
Doctors will begin the diagnosis process by looking for characteristic symptoms and examining family and medical history. They will then conduct tests to confirm a diagnosis, such as rheumatoid factors, antinuclear antibodies, and anticyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP) antibodies. An X-ray may also be conducted in order to discover any damage to the bones.
No cures exist for JIA, but there are treatments. They include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs, corticosteroids, and biologic agents. Other options include physical therapy, diets, massages, acupuncture, and supplements.
Dr. Halima Moncreiffe’s Interview
Dr. Moncreiffe works at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, and she focuses on autoimmune disorders. Her ultimate goal is to find a cure for JIA. She works with a combination of genomics and immunology in order to understand what leads to autoimmune disorders, such as lupus and arthritis. She hopes that her work will lead to therapies and cures.
She spoke of her motivations and reasons for the work she does, and she spoke of being inspired at a young age to help those with autoimmune diseases. She wants to alleviate the symptoms of JIA and other autoimmune disorders for those who are affected by them.
When asked about understanding autoimmune diseases, she stated that it has been difficult to fully comprehend the environmental and genetic factors behind all 80 autoimmune disorders. Not only is it difficult to diagnose and understand these disorders, but treatment can be hard to find as well. Not all treatments work for everyone, so it can often be a trial and error when finding the correct treatment.
Dr. Moncreiffe also spoke of the developments that may lead to more effective treatments. The understanding of the human genome and the ability to study it through a single drop of blood have made it much easier to create treatments. She states that combining this understanding with other fields of healthcare should lead to advancements, but in order for that to happen there needs to be investment in the STEM field.
The interview was concluded with a discussion of the Festival of Genomics. Dr. Moncreiffe attended this festival as she wanted to see the progress that has been made in the field. She also met with former colleagues and was able to share her own research.
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