Genome Research in African American Scleroderma Patients (GRASP) Consortium
Location(s): United States
Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is an autoimmune disease with unknown etiology and complex pathogenesis. The disease has an increased rate of incidence among African-Americans (AAs) and is associated with worse clinical outcome. The Genome Research in African-American Scleroderma Patients (GRASP) project is a genetic study of AA scleroderma patients with the primary goal of defining how differences in the genome (DNA) of these patients explain why this population has a higher susceptibility for the disease and predisposition for more severe clinical manifestations. Previous epidemiological studies, including genome-wide association studies, identified several genetic factors but were primarily focused on Caucasian patients of European descent, and most of the genes identified have not been replicated in other populations. The GRASP consortium, which consists of 19 centers across the country, has collected 1,000 AA patient samples. Clinical data will be organized into a comprehensive database at Johns Hopkins University, and the analysis will be performed at the National Human Genome Research Institute. The overall goal of GRASP is identifying novel genetic variants associated with SSc susceptibility, providing insight into pathogenic pathways, and identifying novel clinical phenotype-specific therapeutic targets.