Lupus Research Institute—January 31, 2013
12 Innovative Scientific Directions
Tackling the complexities of lupus from bold out-of-the-box perspectives, the new studies look at several potential targets for developing new drug treatments, reasons why the immune system turns against the lupus patient’s own cells and organs, and new treatment approaches to correct these immune system defects. The new awards also deal with serious complications of lupus, including blood clots and damage to the kidney and the central nervous system. The 12 grant recipients were selected from nearly 100 applications through a rigorous review process by the Institute’s scientific advisors and 70 lupus experts nationwide.
“Entirely original as well as highly promising, each of these studies exemplifies the investment in innovation that sets the Lupus Research Institute apart,” said Margaret Dowd, LRI President and CEO. “Our novel research strategy over the past decade has taken scientific discovery in lupus to an unprecedented level of success — producing breakthroughs that are driving new treatments. LRI investigators are increasingly picking up the pace, moving studies from the lab to the human disease and to the clinic, keeping lupus patients healthier and safer while we drive to a cure.”
“The Lupus Research Institute is unique in its ability to set the process of discovery in motion,” noted world-leading immunologist Dr. William Paul, LRI Scientific Advisory Board Chairman and National Academy of Sciences member. “By identifying and funding visionary work, the LRI sparks a chain of path-breaking scientific achievements that have the potential to point the way to new therapies for lupus and autoimmune disease.”
Why Does the Immune System Turn Against the Body and How Can We Stop It?
Nine of the LRI-funded investigators are seeking to understand why in some people the immune system, which normally protects, turns and begins to attack the body. This new insight promises to pave the way for more effective and safer treatments for autoimmune disease that prevent the immune system from attacking the body while leaving it able to fight infection.
Can We Reduce Virus-Fighters that Drive Lupus?
Viral infections trigger the immune system to make large amounts of virus-fighting proteins known as interferons. But too much interferon may cause the immune system to attack the body in lupus.
Two new studies will take different approaches to find out how production of interferons might be lessened as a way to treat lupus.
“Having discovered how a particular protein can limit the amount of interferon produced by cells, we are trying to use this natural means of controlling the amount of interferon produced.”
Xiaoyu Hu, MD, PhD, Hospital for Special Surgery.
Is There a Way to Prevent Lupus Kidney Damage?
“We are investigating whether a type of protein found on the surface on kidney cells worsens the kidney damage caused by lupus antibodies and whether release of these proteins could be blocked to prevent lupus kidney damage.”
Jane Salmon, MD, Hospital for Special Surgery.