October 30, 2013
The Lupus Research Institute (LRI) is pleased to report on several presentations at the American College of Rheumatology's (ACR) 2013 annual meeting on critical research funded directly or building on earlier seminal work made possible by LRI Novel Research Grants.
Of particular interest are studies by Dr. Mariana Kaplan at the National Institutes of Health with Carolyne Smith at University of Michigan and by Dr. Marcus Clark of University of Chicago that offer insights into damage to the cardiovascular system and the kidneys, two of the most common complications of lupus.
Ms. Smith presented results of LRI-funded research with Dr. Kaplan on what may cause cardiovascular disease in people with lupus. The immune cells of lupus patients are more likely to release chemicals called neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) that kill microorganisms like bacteria and fungi. Ms. Smith reported that these antimicrobial chemicals turn “good” cholesterol called high-density lipoprotein (HDL) into a form that harms rather than protects the cardiovascular system. This process could explain increased damage to the blood vessels and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) in lupus patients.
Dr. Marcus Clark reported a pioneering approach to measure the extent of active immune responses within the kidney. This evaluation could potentially help predict how patients with lupus nephritis will respond to treatment. Dr. Clark's new work stems from his earlier LRI-funded discoveries highlighting the importance of immune cells within the kidney.
Additionally, several studies presented at ACR can be traced back to pivotal novel research studies originally funded by the LRI. For instance, a study presented today by Canadian researchers linking autism spectrum disorders with lupus builds on groundbreaking findings by Betty Diamond, MD, the head of the Center for Autoimmune and Musculoskeletal Disorders at The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in New York. Her earlier research first showed lupus antibodies can affect the brain. Dr. Diamond just published new findings that 10 percent of mothers of children with autism have antibodies in their blood, such as those found in women with lupus.
“We are pleased to see current and previous LRI-funded patient-centered research continually evolve and inform, contributing to the growing knowledge base about the disease,” says Margaret Dowd, President and CEO of the Lupus Research Institute.