Carola Vinuesa, MD, MSc, PhD

Study:  The Role of micro RNA in a Novel Mouse Model of Vasculitis
Institution:  John Curtin School of Medical Research, The Australian National University, Canberra City, Australia
Co-investigators:  Giles Walters, MD, Simon Jiang, MD, and Alvin Pratama
Award:  $50,000, one-year study

While researching how gene mutations lead to autoimmune disease, Vinuesa and her team discovered that mice carrying mutations in two genes of the same family spontaneously develop medium- to large-vessel vasculitis. Mouse models of spontaneous medium- to large-vessel vasculitis are rare, and understanding how these mice develop vasculitis will hopefully translate into how these genes, and the immune cells they affect, can be targeted to improved management of vasculitis.

For researchers Vinuesa’s work may provide an important step in understanding how interactions between the limbs of the immune system drive the vasculitis disease process. The new mouse model of spontaneous vasculitis may offer new insights into how T cell abnormalities, changes in a specific microRNA, and post transcriptional regulation of expression of genes encoding autoantigens that are a central feature of human vasculitis, lead to severe disease. The grant provides essential support in driving an exciting discovery forward.