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FSR awards $100K for 2 research projects into cardiac sarcoidosis


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The Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research (FSR) has awarded $100,000 in funding to support U.S.-based research projects aimed at improving knowledge and diagnosis of cardiac sarcoidosis, a type of sarcoidosis that affects the heart.

The funds were split into two cardiac sarcoidosis-specific grants, of $50,000 each. One was awarded to Senthil Selvaraj, MD, a cardiologist and assistant professor at Duke University Medical Center, in North Carolina. Daniela Čiháková, MD, PhD, a professor of immunology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, in Maryland, received the other grant.

“The learnings from this research could be groundbreaking in improving diagnosis, prognosis assessment, and treatment management of not only those living with cardiac sarcoidosis, but for many other inflammatory diseases,” Mary McGowan, FSR’s CEO, said in a foundation press release.

FSR has awarded over $6.5 million for sarcoidosis research

Cardiac sarcoidosis occurs when small clumps of inflammatory cells called granulomas form in the heart muscle, disrupting its function. Because its symptoms mimic those of other heart diseases, cardiac sarcoidosis can go undiagnosed for years.

Selvaraj will use his grant toward research into the use of positron emission tomography (PET) scans for correctly diagnosing the condition.

A PET scan is a procedure in which a small amount of a radioactive sugar molecule called fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) is injected into a vein, and a scanner is used to see where the sugar goes in the body.

Because rapidly growing, inflamed granulomas often take up more sugar for energy than normal cells, the scan can be used to detect the condition. However, some normal cells in a diseased heart also may turn up as being inflamed.

In his winning project “Diagnostic Utility of SGLT2 Inhibition to Facilitate Myocardial Glucose Suppression During Evaluation of Cardiac Inflammation on FDG-PET,” Selvaraj wants to use a small molecule called sotagliflozin to reduce background sugar uptake.

Sotagliflozin — sold by Lexicon Pharmaceuticals as Inpefa to treat adults with heart failure in the U.S. — works by suppressing SGLT1 and SGLT2, two proteins involved in sugar uptake by cells. By blocking these proteins, sotagliflozin may help improve the specificity of FDG-PET scans.

“We are absolutely delighted to receive this funding support from the FSR,” said Selvaraj, who also is a faculty member at the Duke Molecular Physiology Institute.

“With this grant, we aim to improve the specificity of cardiac sarcoidosis diagnosis with FDG-PET using a novel strategy incorporating combined SGLT1/2 inhibition with sotagliflozin,” Selvaraj said.

Čiháková’s awarded project, “3D Morphological and Spatial Transcriptomic Analysis of Cardiac Sarcoidosis,” aims to use 3D multi-omic pathology, a combination of whole-organ imaging and molecular analysis, to better characterize the blood vessels growing around granulomas.

“The 2023 FSR Sarcoidosis Cardiac Grant award will allow us to use the novel 3D multi-omic pathology to determine unique properties of vasculature surrounding cardiac sarcoidosis granulomas and find new potential biomarker targets and [tissue-based] criteria for cardiac sarcoidosis diagnosis,” said Čiháková, who also works at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, a founding member of FSR Global Sarcoidosis Clinic Alliance.

“The funding from FSR will allow us to complete the ambitious project and to show if there is a potential link between vascularization and the immune composition of cardiac sarcoidosis granulomas,” Čiháková added.

FSR is working to speed up research on sarcoidosis through its grant program. The goal is to better understand sarcoidosis and advance care for people living with the disease. So far, FSR has awarded more than $6.5 million for research on sarcoidosis.

The post FSR awards $100K for 2 research projects into cardiac sarcoidosis appeared first on Sarcoidosis News.

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