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2007: A Watershed Year for Lupus Research and Education
Date:12/28/2007

Advances in Lupus Research Give Hope for a Better Quality of Life for 1.5 Million Americans with Lupus

WASHINGTON, Dec. 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Lupus Foundation of America, Inc. -- 2007 was a year of significant achievement in the fight against lupus, an unpredictable and potentially fatal disease that affects more than 1.5 million Americans and at least five million individuals worldwide. Public and private funding for lupus research greatly expanded, and new efforts were initiated to bring greater public awareness to lupus and its often devastating consequences.

Promising new targets for treatment were presented at major scientific conferences this past year as links between the laboratory and the clinic began to emerge. Most notably, several pharmaceutical companies are targeting an inflammatory pathway that has in recent years been recognized as critical in lupus, in hopes of developing new drug candidates.

The largest sources of funding for research on lupus - the federal government and the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries - each boosted their support during the past year.

The U.S. Congress tripled funding for lupus epidemiological research funded through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by providing $3.1 million to expand the National Lupus Patient Registry. In addition, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded a $5 million grant to establish a new Center of Research Translation on lupus, and the Department of Defense (DoD) Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program (PRMRP) awarded millions of dollars to support additional lupus research studies.

Private funding for lupus research also rose dramatically in 2007, as evidenced by the nearly two dozen clinical research studies conducted by pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to test potential new, safe, and effective treatments for lupus. This progress in lupus research and development provided growing enthusiasm among people with lupus and their physicians that new options are on the horizon. The outlook brightened this year when several pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies announced encouraging results of their clinical studies.

The Lupus Foundation of America (LFA) in 2007 greatly expanded its own lupus medical research program, "Bringing Down the Barriers," due in part to a partnership with the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation, which has a special interest in lupus in children and in men, and in mid- to late-state translational research. With the addition of $2 million from the LFA and its chapters over the past year, the LFA has to date awarded nearly $20 million in grants to approximately 400 investigators at 100 academic and scientific institutions nationwide. Other private lupus foundations and organizations also have provided funding for lupus research.

Lupus awareness received a giant boost this year when the Advertising Council, which has created some of our most endearing pop culture icons - including Smokey the Bear, McGruff the Crime Dog, and the Crash Test Dummies - began work on a three-year, $3 million national lupus public awareness campaign. The initiative is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health (OWH), in partnership with the LFA. When launched in 2008, the campaign will generate $30-$50 million annually in free media placements, and is expected to reach more than 100 million adults in the U.S. with life-saving information about lupus.

2007 will be remembered as a watershed year for lupus, during which decades of effort to address key gaps in the understanding of lupus and bring down scientific barriers began to pay dividends. These developments have resulted in new hope for a better quality of life for people with lupus and their families who struggle daily with the life-diminishing and life-threatening consequences of the chronic autoimmune disease.

The LFA Website (http://www.lupus.org) has a list of ten important advances in research and education that occurred during 2007.

About the LFA

The Lupus Foundation of America, Inc. is the nation's leading nonprofit voluntary health organization dedicated to finding the causes of and cure for lupus, and providing support, services, and hope to all people affected by lupus. Through programs of research, education, patient services, and advocacy, the LFA and its chapters and support groups provide strong leadership to bring national attention and resources to address this urgent national health issue.


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SOURCE Lupus Foundation of America
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