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Vitamin D, Interferon Alpha Vaccine Show Promise Against Lupus
Date:11/6/2011

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

SATURDAY, Nov. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Two experimental treatments take aim at the destructive immune response believed to cause lupus, according to new research presented at the American College of Rheumatology annual meeting.

One study looked at large doses of vitamin D, while the other was a trial of a potential vaccine against an immune system protein called interferon alpha.

"This is an incredibly exciting time in lupus research. The academic and pharmaceutical communities are involved in studies that will hopefully lead to more effective and safer treatments," said Dr. Cynthia Aranow, an investigator at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in Manhasset, N.Y. She was not involved in the current studies.

Of these latest studies, Aranow said that both appeared to have an effect on immune system cells, but neither was designed to assess whether or not there was enough of an effect to make a difference to a patient (a clinical response).

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that can affect almost any part of the body, including the skin, joints, kidneys, lungs, nervous system and other organs, according to the Office on Women's Health, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. An autoimmune disease is one that develops because the immune system mistakenly sees healthy cells in the body as foreign invaders, such as a virus. Instead of fending off bacteria and other invaders as they should, some immune system cells begin attacking healthy cells.

The problem in developing a treatment for lupus and other autoimmune diseases is that a treatment can't just shut down the entire immune system, because that would leave the body too vulnerable to infection. So, researchers have been trying to find the specific immune cells involved in causing lupus. Research has been looking for ways to slow these cells down, or maybe even destroy them without da
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