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Increased severity of lupus and African-American women focus of Lupus Foundation of Minnesota-funded research at University of Minnesota

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Researchers who seek new biomarkers for human diseases may have many goals. In the field of lupus research, we would like to find biomarkers that could make the disease easier to diagnose, improve the management of disease activity, predict when a flare is likely to occur, and help physicians decide which medications to use (or avoid) in a particular patient.
 
Thanks to advances in genomic and proteomic technologies over the past 10 years, lupus researchers have been successful in identifying many candidate biomarkers in human SLE. Many of these studies have been focused on patients of European descent. However, African Americans are disproportionately affected with SLE. Not only is the incidence of SLE in African American women higher than in Caucasian women, but African Americans also tend to have more severe disease compared with white SLE patients. We would like to gain a better understanding of the biology that leads to the increased severity of lupus in African American women, so that we may have a chance to improve patient care and reveal new targets for therapy.

Our goal in this study, funded by the Lupus Foundation of Minnesota, is to detect patterns of gene expression in the blood that can be biomarkers for SLE in African Americans. So far, we have discovered several gene expression patterns that are unique to African Americans with lupus, in addition to patterns that are found in both African American and Caucasian patients. Our next step is to study these patterns in patients who have been followed over time, so that we can determine whether they change as patients experience flares of their lupus.

In doing so, we may uncover biological clues to help explain the increased susceptibility to and severity of SLE in African American patients.

Ultimately, we hope that this study will provide a foundation for improving clinical management of lupus patients. These biomarkers may also point us toward new therapeutic targets that may be particularly effective in African Americans.


Discussion

  1. Stephen Trevathan  May 16, 2012

    In honor of National Lupus Awareness Month, I wanted to share this new infographic that I found. Hopefully, Get in the Loop – Raising Awareness for Lupus will help illustrate what this month is all about. This month gives national lupus organizations the chance to collaborate and spread awareness for this chronic autoimmune disease.

    • Clinical GPS  February 18, 2013

      I saw this post, and thought that this was really great! Autoimmune diseases like this one sometimes do not get enough exposure, and only through efforts like this one will more people ever learn about them. I have been reading a number of articles on lupus lately, and one in particular caught my eye. Apparently, medical researchers from Stanford are working with Intel scientists in order to develop a new silicon chip technology for lupus. These chips are actually designed to be able to identify patients who have a more severe form of lupus.

  2. AvailFlorida  January 15, 2013

    Hello, I just wanted to say thanks for keeping up such a great resource here. I really appreciate all the information that you have provided on lupus and other autoimmune conditions. I also wanted to thank Stephen for sharing that really great infographic on lupus! With that in mind, I have another infographic on lupus that I was hoping to share with you guys too. This one is titled Lupus: a Closer Look at this Autoimmune Condition. I hope you get a chance to check it out.

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