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New Faces to Lupus Research: Student Summer Research Fellows

New Faces to Lupus Research: Student Summer Research Fellows

If you attended the Lupus Food and Wine Classic in June, you might remember the group of enthusiastic young adults who greeted you as you entered Nickelodeon Universe and escorted you to the registration table. Those students are this year’s Lupus Foundation of Minnesota (LFM)Summer Research Fellows, and we are fortunate to be hosting them in our laboratories at the University of Minnesota while they participate in a lupus research project and learn what full-time research is really like. (Spoiler alert: it’s pretty cool. But I’ll let the fellows tell you that themselves later this summer).  

There are two summer fellows in my lab this year, Sivun and Brianna.  They have already learned some new lab techniques – measuring the activity of a gene in a blood sample, doing in vitro experiments to activate blood cells in a culture dish and see how they respond, examining DNA for the presence of genetic variations associated with lupus, and cloning a little-known lupus-related ...

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Emily Gillespie
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Lupus patients invited to Biovid Corp. survey

Biovid Corp. would like to invite patients to participate in a 20-minute online survey discussing experiences and attitudes toward the management of your lupus condition. The survey is strictly for market research purposes; there will be absolutely no sales or promotional activities in conjunction with this survey. Your responses are completely confidential. Qualified participants will receive a check at the end of the study for $50. If you are interested in participating in this survey, please email Dusten Brennan at Biovid at dbrennan@biovid.com .

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

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

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 ...

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A new drug is approved, new questions arise. So how do we find the answers?

A new drug is approved, new questions arise. So how do we find the answers?

Fortunately, many researchers have ideas about where to look for answers, because we know that Benlysta works by reining in a type of immune cells called B cells.  B cells play an important role in the normal immune response, but when inappropriately activated in a lupus patient, they produce harmful elements that cause the damaging effects seen in SLE.  Researchers think that measuring these may provide clues to help us determine whether an individual patient is likely to respond to this particular drug.

So where exactly might these clues be found? One place to look is among the autoantibodies that doctors routinely test for in lupus patients.  B cells also make an arsenal of other factors that they release into the environment around them, boosting the fight against invading germs but also waging war against a lupus patient’s own tissues and organs.  Finally, B cells display tell-tale markers on their outside surface when they are in attack mode. 

A number of outstanding ...

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Emily Gillespie
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A new drug is approved. What’s next?

A new drug is approved. What’s next?

We finally get to ask that question about lupus, after the FDA approved Benlysta, the first new drug approved for SLE in over 50 years, in March 2011. 

Patients and researchers alike are asking questions …  Who needs to take this drug?  How is it different from the medicines that doctors were already using?  How do we know it’s going to work? How do we know that it’s going to work better than those other medications?

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Emily Gillespie
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Lifetime Risk of Adult-Onset Autoimmune Diseases

Lifetime Risk of Adult-Onset Autoimmune Diseases

There is a recent (within the past year) article from Mayo Clinic that I’ve attached here, that I think addresses some questions about the incidence of lupus in Minnesota.  It is focused on the overall lifetime risk for development of autoimmune diseases, including SLE.

“The Lifetime Risk of Adult-Onset Rheumatoid Arthritis and Other Inflammatory Autoimmune Rheumatic Diseases”

Article published in:
Arthritis & Rheumatism
Vol. 63, No. 3
March 2011

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Emily Gillespie
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