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Young Investigator Award

By Priscilla Lynch - 22nd Oct 2023

Young Investigator Award

The winner of the Irish Society for Rheumatology (ISR) Young Investigator Award, Ms Serena Foo, gave an overview of her research work at the ISR 2023 Autumn Meeting.

Ms Foo completed her PhD in molecular rheumatology at Trinity College Dublin with Prof Ursula Fearon in August 2023. Her main focus was working on Down syndrome-associated arthritis (DA) – a severely underreported and underdiagnosed childhood rheumatic disease. During her time there, she researched the aggressive properties of fibroblasts as well as the immune cell landscape in DA.

The aim of her Young Investigator study was to characterise T-cell polyfunctionality and examine the effect of T-cell-derived cytokines on primary DA synovial fibroblast (DA-FLS) function. Ms Foo said that her results showed DA is characterised by increased polyfunctional T-cell responses compared to juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Furthermore, TNF-α, IL-17a and IFN-γ synergistically interact to enhance the aggressive phenotype of DA-FLS, an effect associated with an increased glycolytic flux.

These data have implications for combination therapy or manipulation of metabolic pathways for the treatment of this aggressive form of inflammatory arthritis in children with DS.

Ms Foo thanked Prof Fearon, and also Dr Orla Killeen (CHI at Crumlin) and Dr Charlene Foley, who have done significant work in this area.

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