The first study, scheduled for presentation Nov. 6 at the ACR meeting in Chicago by Dr. Benjamin Terrier of the Pitie-Salpetriere Hospital in Paris, looked at the effect large doses of vitamin D might have on the immune response.
The study included 24 people with lupus who had no or mild disease activity and low levels of vitamin D. At the start of the study, they were given an injection of 100,000 international units of vitamin D once a week for four weeks. After that, they received a once-a-month injection of the same dose of vitamin D for another six months.
The treatment was very well tolerated, and no one developed too much calcium in their blood or calcium deposits (kidney stones), according to the researchers.
The investigators also found that the treatment boosted the activity of good immune cells, and dampened some of those believed to play a role in lupus.
"It's exciting to see that they were able to reverse some of the immunologic dysfunction associated with lupus, but we need a large randomized clinical trial to confirm this," said Aranow.
She added that the dose of vitamin D used in the study was quite large, and it's not something that people with lupus should attempt to duplicate on their own.
The second study involved 28 people with mild to moderate lupus who were given four doses of a vaccine against interferon alpha (IFNa), an immune system protein that's known to play a role in the severity of lupus.
"We were able to demonstrate that the IFNa signature (in excess in lupus patients) can be turned down by vaccinating patients against their own IFNa. The drug is called IFNa-Kinoid. [It's] a modified IFNa, devoid of IFNa biological activity, but modified in such a way that it becomes recognized by the immune system of the patient," explained Dr. Frederic Houssiau, head of rheumatology at the Catholic University of Louvain in Brussels.
He said the patie
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