New £1.3 Million Fund to Support Translational Research on Shared Mechanisms in Immune Mediated Inflammatory Diseases

Funding to support translational, multidisciplinary research focused on developing new treatments for autoimmune and immune-mediated inflammatory diseases.

The Connect Immune Research co-operative and The Lorna and Yuti Chernajovsky Foundation for Biomedical Research have issued a request for applications for a new £1.3million research fund – Targeting Shared Mechanisms in Immune Mediated Inflammatory Diseases – to support translational research focused on developing new treatments for autoimmune and immune-mediated inflammatory diseases (eg arthritis, MS, diabetes).

Funding of up to £100,000 over 12 months is available to multidisciplinary research collaborations led by academic clinicians or allied health professional based at universities, hospitals or recognised academic research institutes in the UK. Funding will support translational projects that connect immune researchers with expertise in a number of autoimmune conditions, and/or from more than one institution, and/or team members from different stages of the translational pathway, such as preclinical, translational and clinician scientists.

The rationale for the call is based on emerging evidence of similarities across autoimmune diseases in terms of risk factors, immunological and pathological processes. By supporting research effort across autoimmune conditions and targeting shared mechanisms of immunity – rather than approaching research in a disease-specific manner – there are significant opportunities to advance the development of new treatments for people affected by autoimmune conditions.

Funding is for ‘pilot’ projects aimed at quickly developing proof of principle for new treatments for multiple autoimmune conditions, targeting pathways common in autoimmunity. The proposed project can include a discovery stage of no more than 4 months, however the majority of the project should be to demonstrate proof of principle. It is envisaged that successful candidates whose projects demonstrate the most promising outputs will be able to compete for further funding at a scale to quickly develop their research for patient benefit.

Applications are expected to be highly innovative and high risk and must show how the outputs from the funded research could lead to benefit for patients from more than one autoimmune condition. Proposed research must have a translational focus and may include the development of drugs, diagnostics and devices.

Applicants should also consider areas of interest, gaps and opportunities for future research that were identified by representatives of the autoimmunity research community in a workshop held in May 2021. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Revisit interferon response and autophagy to define disease drivers of these pathways for new interventions
  • Leveraging single cell and epigenetic analyses to determine new therapeutic concepts
  • Look beyond professional immune cells to the tissues to break the efficacy ceiling
  • Immune-neuronal bidirectional signalling in health and disease and new opportunities for intervention
  • Harnessing new understanding of the interplay between the gut microbiome, gut immune system and enteric nervous system

Applications for this call are being managed by Versus Arthritis on behalf of Connect Immune Research and the Chernajovsky Foundation. Call guidelines are available on the Versus Arthritis website.

Applications must be submitted via the Grant Tracker grant management system on the Versus Arthritis website by the deadline on 13 October 2021 (16:00 BST).

Successful projects will be announced in February 2022 and should aim to start by spring/summer 2022.

(This report was the subject of a RESEARCHconnect Newsflash.)