Who is Working on a Lupus Cure?
Right now there is no cure for lupus, there are only treatments for lupus symptoms. Yet there are hundreds of research studies going on around the world to develop better treatments along with seeking out a cure and a cause for lupus. Many organizations are supporting lupus studies from The Lupus Foundation, Alliance for Lupus Research, the Canadian Network for Improving Outcomes in SLE, and the Systemic Lupus Erythematosis International Collaborating Clinics to the International Union of Immunology Specialists and World Health Organization Serology Subcommunity.
Lupus research takes on many forms and each study has different goals. Some of the research if focused on genetics, ranging from ways to identify how the disease will appear in the body to identifying the offending genes to develop a cure. Other researchers are focusing on developing better treatments such as finding better anti-inflammatory medications, blood clotting drugs, hormone treatments, and more. The hope is that the side effects in current medications will be decreased while they will also be more focused in attacking symptoms.
There is also a significant amount of research going on outside of lupus-specific research that could have direct impacts on treating lupus. For instance, researchers are working on preventing the risk factors for heart disease and curing cancer. Major improvements in treating kidney disease have arisen out of research, impacting patients that suffer from SLE nephritis. For instance, research is currently being done to determine more effective use of azathioprine and cyclophosphamide as well as the development of a new drug, mycophenolate mofetil, in treating kidney disease.
Research is also being conducted on the criteria used to diagnose lupus. While the ACR criteria have been used for years, they are currently up for review. Many lupus experts are pushing for an expansion of the criteria that will include other symptoms that will help improve the 90 percent accuracy of the current model and also open up opportunities to study more patients in the pursuit of better treatments and a cure.
Overall, the research seems promising. We have no idea what will come in the next 15 to 20 years, but at this rate it looks like we will see major improvements in the awareness and treatment of lupus, resulting in a better quality of life for those coping with the disease.
There are many promising twin and gene studies that are helping to identify a map of gene changes in patients with lupus. With the improvement in technology, scientists are now able to study over 10,000 genes per day to develop this genetic map, which may allow medical experts to determine how each patient will be affected by SLE.
The discovery of how patients will be affected by their lupus will allow physicians to provide each patient with treatment that is specific to their disease, and that treatment may one day include gene therapy. It can also help medical experts make an early diagnosis, which may prevent the months or years of test and failing treatments that frustrate both doctors and patients. It may also allow for early identification of life-threatening symptoms, that with early treatment may be controlled or cured.
Geneticists are hoping to identify exactly which genes control the immune system abnormalities present in lupus patients. If they are able to isolate those genes, they may be able to develop a method for replacing or changing the activity in those genes to cure SLE.
In 2002 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration cleared a market for a new lupus screening test. The test was developed by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and it was considered the first major scientific breakthrough for lupus patients in over 40 years.
That test is known as the anti-SR test, and it helps to identify the 20 percent of patients that previously fell through the cracks, because they could not be identified by the ANA test. The test can also make it easier for doctors to determine who and when patients will flare from lupus. Interestingly, the test arose by chance from a scientific experiment that began when the researchers injected mice with extracts from frog nuclei. The antibodies that the mice developed led to the discovery of the SR proteins used in this new test.
Still, research is not stopping on blood tests for lupus. Research is continuing to find better tests for lupus. The goal is to find a definitive test for lupus rather than a variety of tests that may point to the disease.
Tests are also being developed to determine risk of certain symptoms. For instance, tests are being developed to determine which lupus patients are at a higher risk of blood clots. By identifying patients with a higher risk, preventative treatment can keep people from suffering greater lupus complications.
Thank you Freedom from Lupus.
I hope that those of you who have Lupus or loved ones of a Lupus survivor, have read something here to help you.
As those of you who read my blog on a regular basis, know…I do not believe in pharmaceuticals. Especially since Lupus can be drug induced.
But, I do try to give you options. Not everyone wants nor should take the direction that I have chosen for my self. I do hope that you will look into homeopathic medicine, though.
Better heatlth, smiles and world peace,
~The Baby Boomer Queen~