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First National Research Study on Vasculitis

Vasculitis is an autoimmune kidney disease that causes destruction of small blood vessels, resulting in reduced blood flow, with consequent organ and tissue damage. It is estimated that there are 1,000 people in Ireland with ANCA vasculitis.

The first national research study is being conducted by the Trinity Health Kidney Centre (THKC), an academic health science centre comprising the clinical nephrology units in St James's and Tallaght Hospitals and academic units in Trinity College Dublin ( This includes the Department of Nephrology, the Science Foundation Ireland ADAPT Research Centre ( - which develops next generation digital technologies that allow for new ways to analyse, personalise and deliver data - and TCD's Discipline of Statistics, which will lead on using statistical inference and decision theory to uncover patterns in the study data. THKC is recognised as a clinical centre of expertise in vasculitis and is linked to the European Reference Network for rare immune disorders.

Vasculitis patients are being encouraged to download a free personalised app, developed by patientMpower, which will help patients stay well, manage their medication and interact with clinical teams. The app will collate data for the research study, such as patients' daily activity, location and blood results, to help identify and validate the environmental and clinical reasons for vasculitis flare.

The study, which will be led by Tallaght Hospital's Professor of Nephrology Mark Little, will seek to develop artificial intelligence techniques that will assist physicians in predicting the risk of flare, thereby helping to get the dose of immune-suppressing drugs correct.

Speaking about the research, Professor Mark Little said; 'ANCA vasculitis is a chronic autoimmune disease affecting approximately 1,000 patients in Ireland. Many of these patients lead full, productive lives but remain at risk of disease flare and of the consequences of long-term suppression of the immune system. The aim of this research is to link environmental to clinical factors, using the power of the app, to determine the climate, pollution or infection factors that trigger the disease'.

As the second largest provider of dialysis in the country, Tallaght Hospital has the opportunity to use the outcome of this research to improve patient pathways for rare immune disorders like vasculitis. The work is being performed in conjunction with the Vasculitis Ireland Network, which also comprises vasculitis clinicians in St Vincent's University hospital, Cork University hospital, University Hospital Galway and Daisy Hill hospital in Northern Ireland, alongside the national patient organisation, 'Vasculitis Ireland Awareness'. We hope that as many patients as possible download and input into the app so that we can gain valuable insights into their chronic disease. We hope this information will in time help clinicians treat the condition and improve the management of vasculitis for patients.'

Vasculitis patients can download the personalised app for free which works on both apple (iOS) and Google android devices. The app can be downloaded here: