Researchers supported by MDA are studying the underlying mechanisms that cause inflammatory myopathies, such as dermatomyositis (DM).
Several MDA projects are centered around understanding precisely what triggers the immune system to mistakenly attack muscle tissue, with the ultimate goal of stopping this type of attack.
Some MDA-funded researchers are developing cellular models of muscle injury in DM and are screening these models to learn the basic mechanisms by which muscle injury occurs in this disease.
They're paying particular attention to the role of interferons, proteins normally produced by immune system cells in response to a viral infection, in DM. There's evidence that type 1 interferons injure muscle in DM, and the researchers are seeking to identify compounds that prevent such injury.
Other investigators are studying inflammatory myopathies in dogs. They believe these animals may offer insight into the mechanisms by which autoimmunity develops in these diseases in humans.
At the same time, many clinical trials of medications  used to modify the immune system are under way in DM.
For more about research in and medical management of DM, see the following stories: