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Steps toward Stopping Autoimmune Disease
Date:1/20/2008

NEW YORK, January 20, 2008A landmark genetic study has identified multiple genes linked to systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), or lupus, a debilitating autoimmune disease that affects an estimated 1.4 million Americans.

Lupus can affect the joints, kidneys, heart, lungs, brain and blood and occurs in about 31 out of every 100,000 people. Women are nine times more likely than men to develop the condition, which is often difficult to diagnose.

In 2005 the Alliance for Lupus Research (ALR) formed and supported the International Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Genetics (SLEGEN) Consortium, charging scientists with searching for genetic variants that might predispose an individual to developing lupus.

Published in the January 20, 2008, issue of Nature Genetics, initial study results uncovered several genes linked to lupus and underscore the importance of genetic variants in diseases that affect immune function. The findings will ultimately lead to new therapies and earlier diagnosis.

The SLEGEN study is a model for collaborative genetic research, said Mary Kuntz Crow, M.D., an immunity and inflammation specialist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York and 2008 chair of the ALR Scientific Advisory Board. The ALR approach of supporting investigations targeted toward developing new therapies for people with lupus is unique and meaningful.

Project co-Director Carl Langefeld, Ph.D., added, "These results suggest biologic pathways that help us understand the condition better and suggest additional genetic and non-genetic triggers. In addition, they will help delineate the genetic distinctions between rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and other autoimmune diseases, which could lead to earlier, more accurate diagnoses.

Langefeld, who is director of the Center for Public Health Genomics at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., also noted how satisfying the study results were. This is one of those things that, at the
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Contact: Sam Rogers
srogers@lupusresearch.org
646-884-6091
Alliance for Lupus Research
Source:Eurekalert

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