August 2011

Two Lupus Research Institute Scientists Deliver Breakthrough Research

Studies Advance Potential Treatment for Neuropsychiatric Lupus
and Understanding Lupus Prevalence in African Americans

The Lupus Research Institute (LRI) announced findings of studies by two lupus scientists demonstrating the power of its innovative strategy to drive discovery in lupus by backing potentially groundbreaking ideas that are typically too early or too novel for mainstream support.

Novel Drug Candidate May Block Lupus’ Attack on the Brain
Dr. Betty Diamond at Feinstein Institute of Medical Research in New York came to LRI determined to find out why 4 out of 5 people with lupus have some type of neuropsychiatric difficulty. She discovered a particular type of antibody in lupus patients that can kill nerve cells in the brain. Working with colleagues at Feinstein, Dr. Diamond has now gone on to discover a potential drug to counteract these antibodies and possibly block lupus from attacking the brain. The Feinstein team will share a $571,610 NIH grant with Biomedical Research Models Inc. to test the molecule to see if it is safe for clinical trials with patients.
We’ll keep you posted on her progress…


Why Does Lupus Discriminate Against African Americans?

Finding which genes may predispose African Americans to lupus was the focus of a proposal to LRI from Dr. Timothy Niewold at University of Chicago Medical Center. Confirming his original hypothesis, he has shown that African-American patients carry genes that cause them to produce higher levels of a critical molecule driving lupus progression. On the basis of this LRI-funded work, Dr. Niewold just received nearly $2 million from the National Institutes of Health for further study. His goal is for this knowledge to help personalize treatment for patients. We congratulate him on this grant and look forward to seeing his results.

“These two discoveries exemplify what can happen when scientists are challenged to propose only truly original ideas that offer the potential for new research directions. Funding novel ideas is a high-stakes gamble, but as our researchers’ unprecedented 80% success rate demonstrates, LRI is exceptionally good at picking winners. The pay-off for funding early research takes years, but can be utterly transformational.”

Margaret Dowd, President, Lupus Research Institute

About the LRI
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.

Lupus Research Institute
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e-mail: Lupus@LupusNY.org