LRI Discovery

October 17, 2013

 Innovation Becomes Impact with New
Lupus Research Institute Discoveries

Novel Research Results Advance Improvements in Patient Care

Lupus Research Institute (LRI) novel research studies just published share breakthrough results that can change the way two common complications of lupus – anemia and atherosclerosis – can be prevented and treated.

Treating Anemia
Anemia affects up to 75 percent of people with lupus, causing weakness, shortness of breath, and headaches as well as fatigue so severe it can be hard just to get out of bed. It occurs when there are not enough red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body.

Dr. Westley Reeves and his team at University of Florida discovered the cause and a potential treatment of anemia associated with lupus.

We know that in lupus patients, chronic inflammation damages the bone marrow where red blood cells are produced.  Dr. Reeves’ group discovered how a protein called tumor necrosis factor (TNF) causes anemia by killing the bone marrow cells that produce red blood cells.  

Dr. Reeves explained "Our study suggests that TNF inhibitors currently used to treat rheumatoid arthritis could also be used to treat some cases of anemia in lupus patients."

Predicting Risk of Atherosclerosis in Women with Lupus
Who is at risk for atherosclerosis and should be treated to prevent heart attacks and strokes can now be predicted according to just published LRI-funded research.

Drs. Maureen McMahon (left) and Bevra Hahn (right) at University of California, Los Angeles were, with LRI funding, the first to identify a risk factor for atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) found in approximately half of people with lupus – an altered 'bad' form of the cholesterol HDL. Next, they found that a blood test can pick up this dangerous form of  cholesterol, identifying those lupus patients who are at risk for developing atherosclerosis.

Now their new LRI-funded study found that this blood test is even more accurate when used with several other lab tests that detect several biomarkers for heart disease.

"This combination of tests could be used in the future to determine which lupus patients should receive treatments to prevent heart attacks and stroke," noted Dr. Hahn.

According to Dr. Hahn, women with lupus are about 3 to 10 times more likely than women without the disease to suffer a heart attack or stroke.


About the Lupus Research Institute
The world’s leading private supporter of innovative research in lupus, the LRI champions scientific risk-taking in the hunt for solutions to this complex and dangerous autoimmune disease.


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