The EULAR Scleroderma Trials And Research group (EUSTAR): an international framework for accelerating scleroderma research

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Purpose of reviewSystemic sclerosis has a complex pathogenesis and a multifaceted clinical spectrum without a specific treatment. Under the auspices of the European League Against Rheumatism, the European League Against Rheumatism Scleroderma Trials And Research group (EUSTAR) has been founded in Europe to foster the study of systemic sclerosis with the aim of achieving equality of assessment and care of systemic sclerosis patients throughout the world according to evidence-based principles.Recent findingsEUSTAR created the minimal essential data set, a simple two-page form with basic demographics and mostly yes/no answers to clinical and laboratory parameters, to track patients throughout Europe. Currently, over 7000 patients are registered from 150 centres in four continents, and several articles have been published with the data generated by the minimal essential data set. A commitment of EUSTAR is also to teaching and educating, and for this reason there are two teaching courses and a third is planned for early in 2009. These courses have built international networks among young investigators improving the quality of multicentre clinical trials. EUSTAR has organized several rounds of ‘teach the teachers’ to further standardize the skin scoring.SummaryEUSTAR activities have extended beyond European borders, and EUSTAR now includes experts from several nations. The growth of data and biomaterial might ensure many further fruitful multicentre studies, but the financial sustainability of EUSTAR remains an issue that may jeopardize the existence of this group as well as that of other organizations in the world.

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