FSR awards $150K for study of advanced lung disease in sarcoidosis
2023-2025 fellowship goes to scientist for project to ID biomarkers
The Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research (FSR) is funding a new research project that aims to find biological markers that could help identify people with sarcoidosis who are at risk of developing advanced lung disease.
The work will be led by Christen Vagts, MD, an early career physician scientist at the University of Illinois at Chicago. To support the project, Vagts has been awarded the FSR Sarcoidosis Research Fellowship for 2023-2025, with $150,000 in funding for the project.
“It is with great enthusiasm that FSR grants Dr. Vagts the esteemed 2023-2025 FSR Sarcoidosis Research Fellowship,” Mary McGowan, the FSR’s CEO, said in a foundation press release.
“We are sure that her innovative research will yield significant findings and create fresh opportunities for the diagnosis, prevention, and the advancement of better patient outcomes for those impacted by sarcoidosis,” McGowan said.
“I am so honored to be the recipient of the FSR Fellowship grant,” Vagts said.
Researcher aims to ID patients at risk of advanced lung disease
Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disorder that’s characterized by aggregates or clumps of inflammatory cells called granulomas. Such clumps can affect most organs in the body, but the vast majority of patients have some disease involvement in the lungs, referred to as pulmonary sarcoidosis.
Granulomas in the lungs can cause inflammatory damage to lung tissue, and also trigger lung scarring, known as fibrosis.
The lungs normally need to be stretchy and elastic, kind of like a balloon, so they can inflate to fill with oxygen. When lung tissue becomes scarred, it loses elasticity, making it harder for the person to breath. It also can interfere with the ability of lung tissue to absorb oxygen.
As many as 30% of people with pulmonary sarcoidosis will develop advanced pulmonary sarcoidosis-related fibrosis, or APSF. Vagt’s project aims to identify genetic factors and inflammatory biomarkers that increase the risk of APSF in sarcoidosis patients.
Improved understanding of how sarcoidosis-related inflammation drives pulmonary fibrosis is critical for new drug development and the creation of clinical strategies to help mitigate the risk of [advanced] lung fibrosis.
The project will combine genetic sequencing and computer-based analyses to explore how changes in the immune system may promote lung fibrosis in people with sarcoidosis.
“Improved understanding of how sarcoidosis-related inflammation drives pulmonary fibrosis is critical for new drug development and the creation of clinical strategies to help mitigate the risk of [advanced] lung fibrosis,” Vagts said.
The findings are expected to help identify sarcoidosis patients who are at higher risk of APSF and therefore may need more closer monitoring or more appropriate therapeutic strategies.
The FSR Sarcoidosis Research Fellowship Grant program aims to help support the professional development of the next generation of sarcoidosis researchers. Since the program’s launch in 2018, the FSR has awarded more than $1.2 million to support the research of eight fellows.