The Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation is looking for adults with rheumatoid arthritis to participate in a research study on shingles. Potential study participants must be age 50 or over, cannot have diabetes, and their rheumatoid arthritis should be well controlled.

OMRF researcher and physician Eliza Chakravarty, M.D., is a rheumatologist and epidemiologist studying shingles in people with rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

Shingles is a viral infection that results from the same virus that causes chickenpox. After a person has chickenpox, the virus can lie dormant for years. Later in life when the person’s immune system becomes depressed from illness or simply age, the virus can reactivate as shingles, resulting in a painful rash of blisters anywhere on the body.

Chakravarty is investigating ways to reduce the risk of shingles by observing how well the newly released shingles vaccine works in patients with autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis.

“In a similar study of patients with lupus, we found the shingles vaccine was well tolerated and that patients were able to mount an immune response following the vaccine,” she said. “Now we want to continue the study with rheumatoid arthritis patients.”

All study participants will receive the shingles vaccine and will be followed for 12 weeks to identify any side effects and to measure the immune response. To learn if you qualify for the study or for further information, contact Tiny Powe at (405) 271-3046.