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December 5, 2001


Emory Researchers Seek African-American Sarcoidosis Patients for Genetic Analysis Study

Researchers at the Emory University Sarcoidosis Genetic Analysis (SAGA) Center and the Atlanta Sarcoidosis Center at the Atlanta VA Medical Center are conducting a study to determine the relative contributions of genes and the environment to the development of sarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease that affects the lungs but can appear in almost any body organ.

The Sarcoidosis Genetic Analysis (SAGA) study is recruiting African-American sarcoidosis patients who are at least 18 years of age and have a sibling who has been diagnosed. Participation in the study involves blood work, a medical exam, and evaluation of the patient's work habits and hobbies. Researchers are also interested in testing the immediate family members of infected persons.

Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease that causes microscopic lumps called granulomas to occur in almost every organ of the body — the most common being the lungs, skin and eyes. If the granuloma lumps don't heal or disappear, the body organ remains inflamed and becomes scarred.

Sarcoidosis has no known cause and no cure. It most often strikes young adults between 20-40 years of age, at the height of their working years. Currently the drug prednisone and other drugs that suppress the immune system are used to try and treat the inflammation. Although most patients show some improvement while using these drugs, about 1/3 of patients show a poor response and develop significant impairment of breathing and mobility. Some patients are even forced to consider early termination of their jobs because of the illness.

Sarcoidosis can occur in all races and both sexes, but African-Americans are diagnosed with the condition up to three times more often than Caucasians and show death rates up to 10 times more commonly than Caucasians.

The purposes of the SAGA study are:
- To learn whether the disease is passed on from parent to child
- To find out why African-Americans are diagnosed so often with the disease
- To understand if what they come in contact with at home or work puts African- Americans at increased risk for sarcoidosis
- To improve the health of future generations of African-American men and women at risk for sarcoidosis

The study investigators are Dr. Samuel Aguayo at the Atlanta VA Medical Center and Dr. Gloria Westney at Grady Memorial Health System. Eligible participants or individuals seeking more information about the SAGA Study may contact Kathleen Cannella, RN, Ph.D, or Francesca Cordi, M.S.N, M.P.H at the Emory University SAGA Center at (404) 728-7635 or toll-free at1-877-905-7254.

The Sarcoidosis Genetic Analysis Study is sponsored by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute/National Institutes of Health. The Emory University SAGA Center is one of 11 sites nationwide.

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