Biomedical Research Foundation, Academy of Athens, BRFAA

Principal Investigator:
Dimitrios T. Boumpas MD. FACP (Internal Medicine-Rheumatology, Head Laboratory of Autoimmunity and Inflammation and Chief, Rheumatology and Clinical immunology)

Main tasks in the project and previous experience relevant to those tasks:

Task 1. Establishment of an inventory of biomaterial collected across Europe. Patients’ cohorts, DNA- and RNA-banks have been organized, including samples from synovial, bone marrow and kidney biopsies from a variety of autoimmune diseases. We will be contributing to the cohorts of SLE, RA, PsA and JIA for WP4.

Task 2. Organization of a structured inventory of existing clinical RA cohorts and registries as well as a large-scale pre-RA cohort, including pre-RA biological samples, and information on co-morbidities. The early arthritis, early –RA and RA clinical cohort includes the majority-if not all-of RA patients in the island of Crete (population 700,000). This represents a closed, homogenous population with very little external mobility. Through the Greek Biologic registry coordinated by our center we have access to a sizeable (approximately 5,000 patients) and representative number of RA patients across Greece.

Task 3. Identify the Dendritic Cell ( DC) subset that mediates induction of collagen-specific Treg cells. By the use of a novel method that we have developed for inducing antigen-specific Tregs (Verginis et al. 2008, PNAS 105(9):3479-84), will seek to identify the DC subset involved in the induction of collagen-specific Tregs and to address the mechanisms that leads to collagen-specific Treg-mediated suppression of autoimmune arthritis.

Task 4. Comparison of the genetic basis of RA with that of non-RA diseases and exploration of the molecular biology of the variants that exhibit shared causality in RA and RA-like diseases Immunogenetics and functional genetics of shared disease susceptibility genetic loci. In SLE, the center coordinates European efforts for the management of the disease and end-points in clinical trials in lupus. Elucidation of the functional significance of key-gene polymorphisms in RA and RA-like diseases ( SLE) has been a major focus of our group with studies involving co-stimulatory molecules ( PD-1/PD-1L; Arthritis and Rheumatism 2009 and 2010).

Short profile of the staff that will carry out the work:

D.T. Boumpas, MD, FACP, Professor and Chair, Internal Medicine and Rheumatology/Clin Immunology: Systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis. Studies of the pathogenesisand phase I/II translational studies.Design and outcome criteria for lupus studies

P.I. Sidiropoulos, MD, Rheumatology, Assistant Professor, Head Biologic Therapy Unit,: Rheumatoid arthritis and spondyloarthritides. Pathogenesis and biologic therapy and co-morbities. Biologic registry

G.N. Goulielmos, PhD, Human Genetics, Assistant Professor, Head Human Molecular Unit: Human Genetics (Genetics of monogenic and complex human diseases; organization of DNA banks from SLE, RA, T1D, T2D, PS, PsA, IgAN, FMF patients and healthy controls; functional genomics)

P. Verginis, PhD, Immunology, Head, Immune Tolerance Group. Induction and restoration of tolerance in autoimmune diseases and animal models (T regulatory and DC cells)

I. Tassiulas, MD, Rheumatology, Head, Cytokine and Immune Receptor Signalling Group. FcgR signalling in RA and SLE.

G. Bertsias, MD, PhD, Rheumatology-Clinical immunology, Lecturer. Systemic lupus erythematosus. Functional genomics and innovative trial-designs.

A. Raptopoulou, MD, Staff Rheumatologist, A. Fanouriakis, MD, MS Fellow in rheumatology and PhD student, I. Kirmizi, PhD, Postdoc, Ch. Choulaki, PhD, Postdoc, T. Alissafi, PhD, Postdoc, I. Flouri, MD, PhD student, M. Ioannou, Ms, PhD student, E. Kontaki, MD, MS, PhD student, V. Vazgiourakis, MS, PhD student, M. Kavousanaki, MD PhD student, A. Batsali, BSc, Master student, Ch. Mysirlaki, Research nurse, E Kambouraki, Research nurse, P Rapsomaniki, Research nurse