Is there any way to prevent lupus? Possible answers to this critical question were recently published by LRI investigator Dr. Amr Sawalha at University of Michigan. His research shows how environmental factors such as diet, infections and pollutants, may turn on genes to trigger lupus and why lupus is more common among women.
Research has confirmed that lupus is caused by genetic and environmental factors. But very little is known about how the environment can cause the disease. The LRI awarded Dr. Sawalha awarded a $300,000 Novel Research Grant in 2011 to pursue innovative ideas on how a particular type of epigenetic change, known as DNA methylation, might help explain how lupus is triggered. His initial LRI-funded research was recently awarded $1,155,000 from the National Institutes to Health to continue this important work.
Dr. Sawalha explained, “Our NIH award will allow us to expand our initial investigations of DNA methylation funded by the LRI. We will be able to study lupus patients over time to examine if certain patterns of DNA methylation can predict surges in disease activity and to better understand how changes in DNA methylation may impact the disease process.“