The Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation is seeking volunteers who have been diagnosed with sarcoidosis to provide blood sample donations for OMRF’s Sarcoidosis Research Unit. For the studies, OMRF also needs healthy volunteers to serve as controls.
Sarcoidosis is a rare disease where cells in the immune system that cause inflammation overreact and cluster together to form tiny lumps called granulomas. These granulomas can form in the eyes, liver, skin and brain and most often are found in the lungs. If too many of these granulomas form in a single organ, they can cause the organ to malfunction or even fail.
The disease strikes 39 in 100,000 African Americans, versus only 5 in 100,000 Caucasians. A recent study showed that the mortality rate is nearing 7 percent.
OMRF’s Sarcoidosis Unit, which launched in January, is the only one of its kind in the state. It’s funded with a federal grant from the National Institutes of Health.
“The disease is not well understood, but it’s thought to involve both genes and environmental factors,” said OMRF’s Courtney Montgomery, Ph.D., who leads the Sarcoidosis Unit. “Through this and other research studies, we’re working to identify the genetic factors that cause sarcoidosis in order to improve diagnosis, treatment and patient outcomes.”
For this research study, participants will undergo a screening process, complete questionnaires and donate a small blood sample to be used for research. Volunteers will also be asked to provide consent to review medical records and request previous biopsies related to the disease.
No treatment is administered, but the information gathered can give researchers a clearer picture of the disease and how it progresses. The blood samples will be examined in the laboratory to look at the genetic makeup of patients versus healthy controls to help scientists identify triggers or biomarkers for the disease.
In less than a year of operation, OMRF’s Sarcoidosis Unit has already made significant strides in better understanding the disease.
“The traditional thinking on sarcoidosis was broken into two camps: either it’s an autoimmune disease or it’s an infectious disease,” said Montgomery. “Our preliminary findings are strengthening the argument that this disease has components of both.”
Montgomery said the goal is to enroll 200 patients in this new research study and match them with the same number of healthy controls. Participants will be compensated $20 per visit for their time and effort.
To participate in the study or for more information, please call the Sarcoidosis Research Unit at 405-271-2504 or toll-free at 800-605-7447 or email
Funding for the study was provided through grant number R01 HL113326-06A1-05 from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.