Research

Mayo Clinic rheumatologists conduct a wide-range of patient-centered research to make treatments more effective and improve lives.

The Division of Rheumatology strives to improve the lives of people suffering from rheumatic diseases through innovative, patient-centered research. Staff members are involved in all phases of research, from basic investigations using models of disease to clinical investigations translating new tests and treatments.

Basic research in the division includes models of rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus as well as investigations into how diseases develop. Scientists work with biospecimens from people with rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, inflammatory myositis, vasculitis and scleroderma.

Current clinical research studies are determining the rates, predictors, costs and outcomes of a variety of rheumatic diseases. A number of clinical trials are underway, testing both established drugs and novel experimental therapies. Key areas of interest include:

  1. Adult and pediatric myositis
  2. Giant cell arteritis
  3. Gout
  4. Juvenile idiopathic arthritis
  5. Polymyalgia rheumatica
  6. Psoriatic arthritis
  7. Raynaud's
  8. Rheumatoid arthritis
  9. Scleroderma
  10. Systemic lupus erythematosus
  11. Systemic sclerosis and scleroderma
  12. Takayasu's arteritis

The ultimate goal of research programs in the division is to develop personalized treatment strategies that improve the health of people with rheumatic diseases.

Mayo Clinic rheumatologists collaborate with other specialists to conduct a all levels of research, from basic to clinical trials.

Immunology

One of the biggest breakthroughs in cancer treatment in the past decade is the use of immune checkpoint inhibitors. The treatment targets specific areas of the immune system to help it fight cancer. Unfortunately, the treatment also seems to be linked to certain rheumatic diseases in some people. These are a brand-new category of rheumatic diseases as the first inhibitor treatment was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2011.

Mayo Clinic researchers are investigating several key aspects of the disease:

  1. What are the main cell types and signaling pathways driving these diseases?
  2. What is the relationship between the therapy-induced rheumatic diseases and classic rheumatologic diseases?
  3. What are biomarkers that can identify people with high risk of developing rheumatic diseases following inhibitor therapy?
  4. What are the best treatment and management strategies for these people?

The ultimate goal of Mayo Clinic researchers is to gain a deeper understanding of the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying rheumatic diseases and to use this new knowledge to discover new therapeutic options.

Microbiome

Your intestinal tract is filled with good and bad bacteria. The good bacteria aid in digestion and provide your body with essential nutrients. However, the bad bacteria can cause inflammation. Mayo Clinic rheumatology researchers have used the latest technology to show that an imbalance between good and bad bacteria contributes to disease. Researchers are conducting preclinical studies to determine whether bacteria taken from the gut can be used to treat conditions such as arthritis. If successful, these types of therapies could revolutionize how physicians treat arthritis and many other diseases.

Feb. 18, 2020