Researchers from the Immune Response and Vascular Disease Laboratory, led by José Delgado Alves, awarded the Prémio de Investigação em Autoimunidade 2022 and the Bolsa de Estudo Clínico em Autoimunidade 2022 from the Núcleo de Estudos de Doenças Autoimunes, of the Sociedade Portuguesa de Medicina Interna.
Filipe Paula received the Prémio de Investigação em Autoimunidade 2022 with the work during his doctoral studies entitled “The role of NOTCH signaling in the endothelial dysfunction of Systemic Sclerosis”, together with Marta C. Amaral and José D. Alves.
The researcher explains that with this project, developed over the last 8 years, he discovered a new mechanism at the basis of systemic sclerosis, an autoimmune disease related to an important dysfunction of blood vessels. Filipe Paula adds that "we observed for the first time that there is a family of molecules that is altered in the capillaries of these patients, and that this is being caused by an antibody that the patients produce that had not been described to date. In addition, these changes are likely to be corrected with drugs that are already in use in other diseases."
This award will allow the research team to continue exploring this line of research, since, as usual in science, this discovery raised many other unanswered questions, important for finding new and more effective ways to treat this currently incurable disease.
Joana Caetano received the Bolsa de Estudo Clínico em Autoimunidade 2022 for the project “Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase Gene Polymorphisms in Systemic Sclerosis”, which will be developed between the NMS and the Unidade de Doenças Imunomediadas Sistémicas (UDIMS) of Hospital Professor Doutor Fernando Fonseca.
With this research project, researcher Joana Caetano proposes to study whether patients with systemic sclerosis have mutations in a specific gene, called methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase, which is involved in folic acid metabolism, and to understand whether they are related to vascular damage associated with this disease. A mutation in this gene may not only explain part of the manifestations of the disease, but also be a new therapeutic target. This funding will grant this project its first steps, which will now start its recruitment and preliminary analyses.
The research team received these distinctions with "great satisfaction and pride", as they represent the recognition of the work developed from the Nucleus for the Study of Autoimmune Diseases (NEDAI) of the Portuguese Society of Internal Medicine (SPMI) - the most important scientific society in the area in Portugal.
The prizes were awarded on June 25, at Porto, during the VIII National Congress of Autoimmunity.
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