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Ground breaking research into autoimmune conditions

We've joined forces with three other charities to fund the first ever research into what links different autoimmune conditions.

Our partnership with the type 1 diabetes charity JDRF, Versus Arthritis, and the British Society for Immunology will fund research to help everyone living with an autoimmune condition.

Autoimmune conditions in the UK

Around four million people in the UK have an autoimmune condition, including

  • more than 100,000 people living with MS
  • 400,000 people with type 1 diabetes
  • more than 400,000 with rheumatoid arthritis.

Other autoimmune conditions include Crohn’s disease, colitis, and psoriasis.

In all autoimmune conditions, our immune systems attack healthy cells. Up to a third of people living with an autoimmune condition live with more than one, which can lead to complex and costly health needs.

Connect Immune Research

We hope our collaboration – which we’re calling Connect Immune Research – will radically change how these conditions are researched.

Dr Susan Kohlhaas, our Director of Research, said: “Autoimmunity must be recognised as a distinct area of research science, alongside the likes of cancer, infectious disease and dementia. We’re driving research into more and better treatments all the time, but autoimmunity must be supported to stand on its own and grow as a research area.

“We hope by working together like this we can not only reduce the risk of developing these conditions and help millions of people, but perhaps one day find ways of preventing them.”

Understanding interferon

Professor Yanick Crow, from the University of Edinburgh, has been awarded the first research grant from Connect Immune Research.

He'll be working with specialists from different conditions to understand the role of an immune system protein, named interferon, in autoimmunity. Interferon can be harmful or beneficial in different autoimmune conditions, but we don’t know why.

Studies like this one can help us unlock vital information about MS, and how it can be treated – meaning more new treatments, faster.