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Better Lupus Treatments on the Horizon
Date:9/29/2007

New technologies are giving patients reason for hope, experts say

FRIDAY, Sept. 28 (HealthDay News) -- High-tech research into better, safer ways to treat the autoimmune disease lupus is building up steam, a group of scientists report.

Striking an upbeat tone, researchers from across the United States spoke at a teleconference Tuesday hosted by the Lupus Research Institute (LRI) of the improving outlook for patients with systemic lupus erythematosus.

"Today, we do have therapies that work," conference moderator Dr. Lee Simon, an associate clinical professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston, said. "So, while in the 1950s, 95 percent of people were dead within five years of diagnosis, today, 95 percent of patients survive five years out. But the treatments we have carry a heavy toxic burden. So, we need new drugs that work as well, if not better, with less harsh side effects."

"Today, I'm incredibly excited," added Simon, who has also served as a division director for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. "We are now in a period of time when the development of molecular technology has given us the tools to dissect and tease out some aspects of the disease and identify biomarkers. That means that where previously we tended to treat the symptoms of patients, now we're trying to treat what actually drives the disease," he said.

Other researchers included in the teleconference hailed from the University of California, Los Angeles, the University of Chicago, Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center (RPSLMC), and the Salk Institute of Biological Studies.

Lupus is a chronic and sometimes fatal autoimmune disease that affects upwards of 1.5 million Americans, according to LRI figures.

The disease usually strikes between the ages of 15 and 44, with 90 percent of patients being women. Hispanic, Asian and Native American women appear to have a higher risk of developing the dise
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