An Unusual Partnership to Tackle Stubborn Diseases

The New York Times—February 4, 2014

The National Institutes of Health, 10 large drug companies and seven nonprofit organizations announced an unconventional partnership on Tuesday intended to speed up development of drugs to treat Alzheimer’s disease, Type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

Dr. Michael D. Lockshin, co-director of the Mary Kirkland Center for Lupus Research at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, said the consortium’s approach was “a very nice response to one aspect of the disease.”

But he fears that looking for a single drug target may be too narrow a strategy against lupus, a complicated autoimmune disease.

The key to lupus, Dr. Lockshin said, may hinge in part on answering three questions: Why is the ratio of female patients to male patients nine to one? Why is the ratio of black patients to white patients three to one? And why does the disease strike women primarily between the ages of 15 and 35?

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