NEW YORK, NY – May 1 – The Lupus Research Institute (LRI) announces a new $170 million milestone — delivering unprecedented novel research funding and unprecedented research results — changing the lives of lupus patients. A new analysis of completed LRI Novel Research grants demonstrates an 84 percent success rate as scientists prove cutting-edge hypotheses, publish results and win extended federal funding to advance original discoveries to clinical development.
“Over the last decade, the LRI produced many of the pivotal discoveries in lupus and autoimmunity,” said William Paul, MD, chair of the LRI Scientific Advisory Board. “The LRI’s approach effectively advances novel concepts to be furthered by subsequent large-scale funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and to expand the possibilities for new drug development that can help patients.”
LRI-funded investigators are answering bold new questions and letting this science lead the way to how lupus is diagnosed, monitored and treated as well as how it will be cured with breakthroughs in:
- Predicting flare. Two new lab tests to predict lupus flare. By detecting the earliest signs of an upsurge in disease activity the tests are designed to improve disease management and accelerate the testing of new drugs in clinical trials. Researchers: Mary K. Crow, MD and Emily Baechler Gillespie, PhD
- Predicting heart risk. For the first time clinical research showed that a blood test for homocysteine identifies lupus patients most at risk for cardiovascular disease. Doctors now use the test to guide preventative treatment and reduce the chance of life-threatening cardiac events. Researcher:Joan Von Feldt, MD
- Discovering how lupus attacks the brain. Researchers uncovered how the lupus immune system attacks the central nervous system (CNS), leading to current work on a new targeted treatment for neurological and psychological complications of lupus. Researcher: Betty Diamond, MD
- Discovering how lupus harms the heart. A chemically altered form of ‘good’ cholesterol was found to contribute to circulatory system damage in lupus. This discovery led to new ways to identify and treat patients at risk of heart disease. Researcher: Bevra Hahn, MD
- Transforming kidney diagnosis. Researchers devised new non-invasive tests to diagnose and guide treatment of lupus kidney disease as alternatives to surgical kidney biopsies. Researchers: Chandra Mohan, MD, PhD;Chaim Putterman, MD; Joshua Thurman, MD
- Discovering new genes. Genetic breakthroughs uncovered new culprits in lupus – the Toll-like receptors. Drugs that inhibit these proteins are soon to be tested in lupus patients. Researchers: Silvia Bolland, PhD and Ian R. Rifkin, MD, PhD
- Smarter drug delivery. Using innovative nanotechnology to deliver drug doses directly to disease-causing cells promises to make existing lupus treatments safer and more effective. Researcher: Tarek Fahmy, PhD
Results like these take both private and public funding. Of every dollar contributed to the LRI, 92 cents goes directly to its research programs, and every one of these dollars has multiplied more than four-fold. Over the past 12 years, the LRI has awarded and funded 140 innovative research grants. That investment of $40 million has turned into more than $170 million as LRI researchers won unmatched levels of follow-on funding from the NIH and other sources to extend the development of their innovative work.
“This Lupus Awareness Month, we spotlight our scientists’ success because it is their talent, creativity and insight that is turning patients’ hope into reality,” said Margaret Dowd, President and CEO. “This is a time to recognize and celebrate the power of scientific innovation as the clear path to transforming the outcomes for lupus and autoimmune disease.”