The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Research and Innovation

Medical Research Council funds VEXAS syndrome research 

1 December 2023

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 A research team led by one of our consultants has received funding worth £1 million from the Medical Research Council (MRC) to support their ground-breaking work.

Dr Sinisa Savic, Consultant Immunologist and Professor in the School of Medicine at the University of Leeds is leading the team’s investigation of VEXAS syndrome. 

VEXAS is an autoinflammatory condition leading to fevers, general inflammation, skin rash, anaemia and organ damage. It can affect almost any organ in the body, result in bone marrow failure and it is associated with reduced survival. 

Collaboration across institutions 

Dr Savic is an expert on autoinflammatory conditions and was involved in the original discovery of VEXAS syndrome. His research in this disease area is supported by a Senior Fellowship from the Kennedy Trust. 

He is working alongside collaborators across the University of Leeds and the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, including Dr Catherine Cargo. Dr Cargo is the clinical director for the Haematological Malignancy Diagnostic Service, whose service provides routine diagnostic tests for VEXAS syndrome and related conditions.  

The team also includes biologist Professor David Kent (co-investigator) from the University of York, an expert in the biology of the bone marrow and blood stem cells and Dr James Poulter, UK Research and Innovation Future Leaders Fellow, with expertise in genetics of rare diseases. 

Prior to receiving funding from the MRC, Professor Savic and Professor Kent had collaborated on the National Institute of Health and Care Research’s (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre (BRC). 

Their preliminary findings were used for their successful application for this grant.  

The funding by the MRC will support their work on VEXAS syndrome and foster this collaboration over the next three years. 

Highly specialist care 

The research team seek to understand how genetic abnormalities affect immune system cells and bone marrow, leading to VEXAS syndrome. 

They will test the effects of different medications on the cells of patients with VEXAS syndrome, to help select the best treatment that can eventually be used in clinical practice. 

This work will support the provision of highly specialist care for patients with VEXAS syndrome and related disorders. 

Dr Sinisa Savic said: “I am honoured and delighted to receive funding from MRC. 

“This grant will help us to learn more about this rare but debilitating disorder and improve outcomes for patients with VEXAS.”