Medical Research Council funds VEXAS syndrome research

VEXAS syndrome is an autoinflammatory condition that leads to fevers, general inflammation, skin rash, anaemia and organ damage.

It can affect almost any organ in the body, result in bone marrow failure and it is associated with reduced survival. 

A research team with a range of specialisms are investigating the condition to make improvements to its diagnosis, treatment and overall clinical care. 

They have now received funding from the Medical Research Council (MRC) to support their groundbreaking work. 

Collaboration across institutions

The lead investigator, Sinisa Savic, is a Professor in the School of Medicine at the University of Leeds. 

He is an expert on autoinflammatory conditions and was involved in the original discovery of VEXAS syndrome. 

He runs one of the national clinical services for autoinflammatory disorders. His research in this disease area is supported by a Senior Fellowship from the Kennedy Trust.  

He is working alongside biologist Professor David Kent (co-investigator) from the University of York, an expert in the biology of the bone marrow and blood stem cells and Dr James Poulter, UK Research and Innovation Future Leaders Fellow, with expertise in genetics of rare diseases. 

The team also includes collaborators across the University of Leeds and the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, including Dr Catherine Cargo. 

Dr Cargo is the clinical director for the Haematological Malignancy Diagnostic Service, whose service provides routine diagnostic tests for VEXAS syndrome and related conditions.  

Prior to receiving funding from the MRC, Professor Savic and Professor Kent had collaborated on the National Institute of Health and Care Research’s (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre (BRC). 

Their preliminary findings were used for their successful application for this grant.  

The funding by the MRC will support their work on VEXAS syndrome and foster this collaboration over the next three years. 

Highly specialist care

The research team seek to understand how genetic abnormalities affect immune system cells and bone marrow, leading to VEXAS syndrome. 

They will test the effects of different medications on the cells of patients with VEXAS syndrome, to help select the best treatment that can eventually be used in clinical practice. 

This work will support the provision of highly specialist care for patients with VEXAS syndrome and related disorders. 

Dr Sinisa Savic said: 

“I am honoured and delighted to receive funding from MRC. 

“This grant will help us to learn more about this rare but debilitating disorder and improve outcomes for patients with VEXAS.”