Current systemic scleroderma (SSc) treatment research focuses on two stages of the disease process: (1) immune system regulation / suppression, and 2) drugs that slow or stop fibrosis. To date, neither of these treatment approaches has been shown to be effective in fundamentally slowing SSc disease progression.
While SSc is a complex disease that is not fully understood, research indicates that SSc is a disease of the microvascular system where repeated damage to the lining of the smallest blood vessels leads to the fibrotic processes that trigger the entire symptom cascade. There is a significant body of research that documents abnormal blood rheology (increased overall blood viscosity and abnormal clumping of red blood cells) in people with SSc. Our research focus is on better understanding the role of this abnormal blood rheology in systemic sclerosis pathogenesis and determining if treatments that target this early stage of the disease process may be more effective and safer than current treatment approaches that focus on immunosuppression.