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Kevin Deane

Is Autoimmunity Environmental? If so, is it preventable?

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About the topic

Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus in total affect approximately 8% of the population, and lead to decreased quality of life, premature death, as well as extremely high financial costs to the health care system.

Currently, autoimmune diseases are only treated once an individual develops the signs and symptoms of the disease. For example, in rheumatoid arthritis, the development of painful, swollen joints.

However, there are a growing number of studies that demonstrate that autoimmune diseases are triggered long prior to the first symptoms of disease by interactions between the immune system and environmental factors such as tobacco smoke, infections and others.

Because of this, there is now great hope that population-based approaches to identifying individuals who are at high-risk for future autoimmune disease can be employed to prevent these conditions, and not just treat them once the disease has become symptomatic. This approach would be much like cancer and heart disease are approached in the USA today, where we try and identify these conditions very early before they become a significant health problem to the individual.

For the November 12, 2013 session of Café Sci, Kevin Deane, MD, PhD, an Associate Professor in the Division of Rheumatology, will summarize efforts in field to identify the key factors that trigger autoimmune diseases, and how to use this knowledge in public health-based approaches to ultimately prevent the conditions. He's very interested is hearing your thoughts on how best to do this sort of outreach.

A recent paper by the Rheumatology group on links between rheumatoid arthritis and environmental agents give a (somewhat technical, but interesting) idea of the kind of work that engages Dr. Dean.


Kevin DeaneKevin Deane is an Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. He received his MD from Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Loma Linda, California, and did all his residencies and fellowship and research training at the University of Colorado.

His research interest is primarily in the area of pre-clinical identification of autoimmune disease, with an emphasis on rheumatoid arthritis (RA). He is currently involved as a co-investigator in a multi-centered NIH and foundationally-sponsored study investigating the relationship between genetics, environmental exposures, and the development of rheumatoid arthritis-related autoimmunity. Dr. Deane has special interests in the mechanistic role of the lung in the initial generation of rheumatoid arthritis-related autoimmunity, building statistical models using biomarkers and other factors in order to predict of future development of RA in currently asymptomatic individuals, and ultimately developing a prevention trial(s) for RA. 

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