Navigation Links
Lupus Treatment May Soon Take Leap Forward
Date:12/25/2010

By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Dec. 24 (HealthDay News) -- For years now, doctors have made slow, incremental progress in the treatment of lupus, a chronic autoimmune condition that can wrack the body and seriously affect a person's health.

But researchers now are preparing for a potential major leap forward.

A new medication that could be an effective new treatment for the disease was endorsed in mid-November by an advisory panel of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and recommended for approval. Though the FDA is not bound by its advisory committees' recommendations, it usually follows them.

"There is real optimism there may be a drug approved for the treatment of lupus for the first time in 54 years," said Dr. Mary Anne Dooley, an associate professor at the University of North Carolina Kidney Center.

Lupus primarily affects women. Nine out of 10 people who have lupus are women. It also appears to be more common among black, Hispanic, Asian and Native American women than white women.

The disease causes the immune system to begin harming the organs and the systems of the body. "Your immune system becomes hyperactive, and, instead of defending you from infection, it attacks parts of your body," Dooley said.

According to Dooley and the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the most common symptoms of lupus include:

  • A "butterfly" rash across the nose and cheeks.
  • Skin rashes elsewhere.
  • Skin photosensitivity.
  • Joint pains and stiffness.
  • Muscle aches and pain.
  • Hair loss.
  • Fatigue.
  • Fever not linked to any other illness.
  • Anemia.
  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering.

"Lupus primarily attacks the skin and the joints, but any organ can be affected," said Dr. Cynthia Aranow, an associate investigator with the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research at the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System in New York.

When the organs are affected, people with lupus can suffer serious health effects. They face an increased risk for kidney damage and other long-term health problems, and "women with lupus are 50 times more likely to develop heart disease than women without lupus," Dooley said.

Researchers have not yet figured out what prompts lupus. Studies suggest that genetics probably play a large role, but there also seems to be another factor that triggers the disease, Aranow said.

"We know it's more than the genes," she said. "If one twin has lupus, the risk of the other twin developing lupus is only 25 to 50 percent."

Improvements in lupus treatment have helped people live longer and healthier lives. In 1950, a person diagnosed with lupus had a 50 percent chance of surviving two years, Aranow said. Today, the 10-year survival rate for someone with lupus very nearly mirrors that of the overall population.

However, the improvements have not come from research specifically targeted to lupus. The last lupus drug to receive approval, Plaquenil, was approved in the 1950s, Dooley said.

Instead, doctors have improved lupus treatment through the use of medications created for other diseases. "Rheumatologists beg, borrow and steal medications from other specialties," Aranow said. These include immunosuppressive drugs and newer anti-malarials, anti-inflammatories and corticosteroids.

But that could change soon with Benlysta (belimumab), which has shown promise as a lupus treatment.

Benlysta works by downregulating the communication between the immune system's T and B cells, Dooley said. The T cells govern the immune response and tell B cells what sort of antibodies to produce.

"It doesn't completely prevent communication, but it reduces the hyperactivity," Dooley said. "You're still able to fight off infection and have your immune system be effective this way, but you wouldn't have all these markers of immune hyperactivity."

Benlysta has been boosted by two major studies that have come out in the past year showing its effectiveness. And, although the FDA had expressed concerns about safety, questioning whether its use might be linked to depression and suicide, the advisory panel examined safety data and decided otherwise.

At the same time, lupus researchers continue to pinch medications and treatments from other specialties. Research is underway to see whether an immunosuppressive drug created to maintain kidney transplants, mycophenolate mofetil (MMF), could be an effective lupus drug. It has become generic and, therefore, less expensive, and it may have fewer side effects than other lupus medications, Dooley said.

"It's important for people [with lupus] to realize that they're not alone, that the outlook is much better and there are all sorts of resources available," Aranow said.

More information

The Lupus Foundation of America has more about lupus.

For more on lupus, read about one woman's story.

SOURCES: Mary Anne Dooley, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor, medicine, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, N.C.; Cynthia Aranow, M.D., associate investigator, Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, Manhasset, N.Y.


'/>"/>
Copyright©2010 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. Urine protein test might help diagnose kidney damage from lupus, UT Southwestern researchers find
2. Antibodies linked to cardiovascular disease increase in patients with active lupus
3. New Clues to Lupus Link With Heart Disease
4. Psychotherapy Can Help People With Lupus Cope
5. Sisters Helping Sisters: A New Lupus Research Study to Follow Sisters of Lupus Patients
6. Lupus Awareness Month Kicks Off at Rockefeller Center: EHE International Donates Display Window to S.L.E. Lupus Foundation for May
7. Genealogy may affect clinical differences in systemic lupus erythmatosus patients
8. Chinese systemic lupus erythematosus data reveal differences in epidemiology across continents
9. Researchers uncover biological rationale for why intensive lupus treatment works
10. Overactive Blood Platelets May Play Role in Lupus
11. Correction: Abatacept found ineffective in treatment of non-life threatening lupus
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Lupus Treatment May Soon Take Leap Forward
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... , ... As a lifelong Southern Californian, Dr. Omkar Marathe earned his Bachelors ... Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He trained in Internal Medicine at Scripps Green ... hematology/oncology at the UCLA-Olive View-Cedars Sinai program where he had the opportunity to train ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... Conventional wisdom preaches the benefits of moderation, whether ... latter, setting the bar too high can result in disappointment, perhaps even self-loathing. However, ... their goal. , Research from PsychTests.com reveals that behind the tendency ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... Michigan (PRWEB) , ... June 24, 2016 , ... June ... about the dangers associated with chronic pain and the benefits of holistic treatments, ... individuals who are suffering with Sickle Cell Disease. , Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... , ... Global law firm Greenberg Traurig, P.A. announced that 20 Florida attorneys ... peers for this recognition are considered among the top 2 percent of lawyers practicing ... members of this year’s Legal Elite Hall of Fame: Miami Shareholders Mark D. ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... ... of Topricin and MyPainAway Pain Relief Products, join The ‘Business for a Fair Minimum Wage’ ... 2020 and then adjusting it yearly to increase at the same rate as the median ... floor does not erode again, and make future increases more predictable. , The company is ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... -- In a startling report released today, National Safety Council ... comprehensive, proven plan to eliminate prescription opioid overdoses. Prescription ... are tackling the worst drug crisis in recorded U.S. history, assigned ... Kentucky , New Mexico , ... 28 failing states, three – Michigan , ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... June 23, 2016 Capricor ... ), a biotechnology company focused on the discovery, ... that patient enrollment in its ongoing randomized HOPE-Duchenne ... exceeded 50% of its 24-patient target. Capricor expects ... third quarter of 2016, and to report top ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 , ... Thursday, July 7, 2016 , , , , LOCATION: , ... , , , , EXPERT PANELISTS:  , , , Frost ... Industry Analyst, Christi Bird; Senior Industry Analyst, Divyaa Ravishankar and Unmesh ... The global pharmaceutical industry is witnessing an exceptional era. Several ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: