NIAMS Update June 2011

NIAMS - National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
Update - An online resource for the NIAMS Coalition, Council, and Colleague
June 30, 2011
The NIAMS Update is a monthly digest published for those interested in the latest scientific news and resources on diseases of the bones, joints, muscles, and skin. We encourage further dissemination of this resource.
Contact Information

Office of Communications and Public Liaison

Janet S. Austin, Ph.D.

Melanie M. Martinez, M.P.A.
Public Liaison Officer

Trish Reynolds, R.N., M.S.
Media Liaison


NIH Seeks Nominations for 2011 Council of Public Representatives (COPR)
The Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is seeking nominations to fill vacant appointments to the 2011 COPR roster. Applications are due Friday, July 29, 2011, and are available online.

New members will be notified of their conditional appointments in time for the fall 2011 COPR meeting. All applicants will be notified regarding the new appointees by fall 2011.

The NIH will host a toll-free teleconference to present information on NIH and the NIH Director’s Council of Public Representatives from the perspectives of the staff and current Council members. The date and time of the teleconference will be updated on the nomination webpage when available.

For more information about COPR, please visit the Director’s Council of Public Representatives webpage. To request an application by mail, contact the COPR resource staff by phone at (301) 650-8660, ext. 256, by fax at (301) 650-8676, or by email at

Other Federal News

The NIAMS Community Health Center Has Moved
After ten years of serving patients in Unity Health Care’s Upper Cardozo Health Center in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of northwest Washington, DC, the NIAMS Community Health Center (CHC) has moved to a new location in Silver Spring, Maryland. The move was precipitated by termination of the lease due to building renovations. The new CHC is located in the McCarrick Center of the Spanish Catholic Center of Catholic Charities in Silver Spring, Maryland. It is accessible by public transportation, and free parking is available. The new CHC will continue to operate three days a week and, as part of the NIAMS Natural History of Rheumatic Diseases in Minority Communities study, it will allow patients to access the NIH campus for services not available at the CHC.

Scientists Correct Genetic Defect in Blistering Skin Disease in Mouse Model
A new study supported by the NIAMS shows it may be possible to grow healthy new skin for people with a rare disfiguring skin disease called recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa (RDEB). Caused by a defect in the gene coding for a protein called type VII collagen, RDEB is characterized by painful blistering of the skin and mucous membranes that leaves people prone to infections, scarring and skin cancer. Currently, the only treatment for the disease is targeted at relieving pain and improving quality of life.

Scientists Find Clues to Role of Neutrophils in Lupus
Scientists have long suspected that immune system cells called neutrophils play a role in lupus, a disease that occurs when the body’s immune system attacks and damages its own tissues, including the skin, joints, heart, lungs, kidneys and brain. More than a half-century ago, scientists found that the blood serum from patients with lupus triggered alterations in the nuclei of these abundant immune system cells. This finding was used to diagnose patients with lupus for many years, but the role of neutrophils in the disease remained elusive. Scientists supported by the NIAMS have now found a new role for these cells in lupus. Their discovery, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, could potentially lead to the identification of new therapeutic targets for the disease.

Study Shows Sustainability of Gene Transfer Therapy for Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy
Research supported, in part, by the NIAMS expands upon the initial success of a gene transfer study for treating limb-girdle muscular dystrophy type 2D (LGMD2D). The new study, reported in the Annals of Neurology, showed the expression of the protein alpha-sarcoglycan, which is deficient in people with the LGMD2D form of the disease, can be sustained for at least six months.

Blood Vessel Cells May Be Key to FOP Ossified Tissues, Say Scientists
Cells that line blood vessels are a main source of the excessive bone tissue that defines the rare inherited disease fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP), say scientists at Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania, who have published new research related to the disorder. Their work, supported, in part, by the NIAMS, shows that these cells, called vascular endothelial cells, leave their blood vessel locations under conditions of inflammation and become stem-like cells that produce the problematic bone cells. The accumulation of extra bone gradually restricts movement in the bodies of people with FOP. The findings, reported in Nature Medicine, may result in new therapeutic targets to counter the disease.

Biglycan Treatment Shows Promise in Muscular Dystrophy Mouse Model
Treatment with the protein biglycan reduces muscle damage in a mouse model of Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophies, according to new research supported, in part, by the NIAMS. Dystrophin deficient mice given systemic injections of purified biglycan were less susceptible to the loss of muscle strength that characterizes the disease. The study was reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Origins of XMRV Deciphered, Undermining Claims for a Role in Human Disease
Delineation of the origin of the retrovirus known as XMRV from the genomes of laboratory mice indicates that the virus is unlikely to be responsible for either prostate cancer or chronic fatigue syndrome in humans, as has been widely published. The virus arose because of genetic recombination of two mouse viruses. Subsequent infection of lab experiments with XMRV formed the basis of the original association.

Meetings and Events

Video of the Lessons in Lupus Seminar Held at the NIH
The Office of Research on Women's Health, the NIAMS and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases sponsored a scientific seminar called Lessons in Lupus on Tuesday, May 10, 2011, at the NIH Clinical Research Center. Leading NIH lupus researchers discussed lupus risk factors and current treatments. Advocacy and educational partners presented perspectives and insights on living with lupus.

NIH Advisory Committee to the Director
The 102nd meeting of the NIH Advisory Committee to the Director was held on Thursday, June 9, and Friday, June 10, 2011. View the agenda.


June Shorttakes
NIAMS Shorttakes is a compilation of news from the Institute that is published three times a year in conjunction with NIAMS Advisory Council meetings. Just scan these “shorttakes” for information on what’s happening at the NIAMS, or access the complete articles for viewing or use in your own newsletter or other publication.

Six New Audio Publications Available in Chinese
Audio versions of the following easy-to-read fact sheets are now available in Chinese on the NIAMS website:

  • What Is Acne?
  • What Is Back Pain?
  • What Are Knee Problems?
  • What Is Osteoarthritis?
  • What Are Sprains and Strains?
  • What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Two New Easy-to-Read Fact Sheets Available
The following fact sheets are part of the NIAMS’ “Fast Facts” series of publications for the public:

What Is Ankylosing Spondylitis?
¿Qué es la espondilitis anquilosante?

These fact sheets contain general information about ankylosing spondylitis. They describe what ankylosing spondylitis is, its causes and treatment options. Highlights of current research are also included.

NIH Research Matters
NIH Research Matters is a review of NIH research from the Office of Communications and Public Liaison, Office of the Director, NIH.

Blood Pressure Drug May Help Muscle
A drug commonly used to treat high blood pressure shows promise in mouse studies for protecting against muscle loss and rebuilding injured muscle. The finding might have implications for slowing the muscle loss that occurs with age and disuse.

NIH Public Bulletin
Read about the latest public events, activities and health information resources from NIH in the latest issue of the NIH Public Bulletin.

NIH News in Health
Read practical health information in NIH News in Health, which is reviewed by NIH’s medical experts and is based on research conducted either by NIH’s own scientists or by our grantees at universities and medical schools around the country.

Funding Announcements
NIAMS Announcements

NIAMS Clinical Trial Implementation Cooperative Agreement (U01)
Letters of Intent Receipt Dates: Multiple dates, see announcement
Application Receipt Dates: Multiple dates, see announcement

Clarification to NIAMS RFA-AR-12-001, Multidisciplinary Clinical Research Centers (P60)

If you would like to review information about funding opportunities more frequently than our monthly updates allow, see the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts, the primary source for information about NIH funding opportunities. You can also request a weekly Table of Contents from the NIH Guide.