Study: Rho-kinase Activity in Large Vessel Vasculitis
Co-Investigator:  Robert Spiera, Director, Scleroderma and Vasculitis Center, Hospital for Special Surgery
Institution:  Hospital for Special Surgery, New York, New York
Award:  $50,000 one-year study

Summary: Rho/Rho kinase (ROCK) are a group of proteins involved in regulating blood vessels. In a small pilot study, Lally et al found increased levels of ROCK in the temporal artery biopsies of patients with GCA compared to patients without GCA. The higher levels of ROCK were seen even in biopsies that were negative by routine conventional analysis of the tissue. The team will look at a larger number of biopsies to see if staining for ROCK activity is useful in enhancing the diagnostic potential in negative biopsies, and if this may be a new therapeutic target. The findings may help identify patients who have GCA despite a negative biopsy for vessel inflammation, and prevent patients without GCA from getting unnecessary treatment with high doses of corticosteroids. ROCK may also represent a pathway that has not yet been extensively explored in inflammatory vascular disease. The funding enables Lally to move forward with this important project quickly.