Staying up to date with the latest research, discoveries, and key contributors in pediatric rheumatology is a time-consuming effort that can be difficult for clinicians to effectively prioritize despite the numerous benefits. The Pediatric Rheumatology Year in Review and Awards will summarize these important trends on Saturday, November 12, from 11 a.m.–12 p.m. ET, in Terrace Ballroom IV of the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
The session will begin with a ceremony to recognize the contributions of members of the pediatric rheumatology community receiving awards and honors at ACR Convergence.
Shaun Jackson, MD, PhD, associate professor, Seattle Children’s Research Institute, and Mary Beth Son, MD, Section Chief of the Rheumatology Program, Boston Children’s Hospital, and Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, will then present their year-in-review research findings. Dr. Jackson will summarize the most significant basic and translational research in pediatric rheumatology over the past year. Dr. Son’s presentation will focus on clinical research.
“The overall goal is to provide the audience with insight into what has been published in the past year that’s directly relevant to their practice,” Dr. Son said. “Articles are included that may not be directly relevant to practice now but might have an impact in years to come.”
Dr. Jackson will discuss recent discoveries regarding links between autoimmunity and clinical manifestations of COVID-19. These include the observation that pre-formed autoantibodies targeting type 1 interferon cytokines place patients at increased risk for severe COVID-19 infection. Conversely, the development of autoantibodies against an inhibitory cytokine, interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra), was recently associated with both post-COVID-19 multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) and with myocarditis associated with messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines.
“These studies provide new insights into how autoantibodies against different cytokines, either protective or immunoregulatory, can alter how the human immune system responds to an acute viral infection,” Dr. Jackson said.
He will also present recent findings on the role of endosomal receptors TLR7 and TLR9 in the pathogenesis of lupus disease. Despite the long-standing appreciation for the role of anti-nuclear antibodies in human systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), paradoxical findings in mouse models of lupus showed that TLR7 plays a larger role in disease development, with TLR9 being protective. This discovery initially raised more questions than answers. Did this disconnect stem from different biological processes in mice and humans? Or was there something still not understood about the receptors?
“Two papers came out within the last year, one focused on human genetics, the other focused on mouse lupus models, which I think went a long way to resolving some of this conundrum,” Dr. Jackson said.
Dr. Son will focus on significant randomized trials that have been published, although there is arelative scarcity of this type of research in pediatrics, she noted. Her presentation will also touch on recent guidelines published by the ACR and the European Alliance of Associations for Rheumatology (EULAR) and important contributions to specific disease-related research areas in pediatric rheumatology.
“Despite COVID-19, research shutdowns, and how busy everyone has been over the past few years, there has still been a lot of progress made in our field around the world,” Dr. Son said. “I think that’s how we’re going to get the work done to move the field forward for the patients—by collaborating and learning from each other.”