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:5/28/2016)... ... 28, 2016 , ... May 26, 2016- In search of the K. Warriors, ... event of “K Warriors” on June 4, 2016 at Ashbury Hotel and Suites 600 ... sponsored and hosted by Shaolin Institute and sanctioned by KSF (Kungfu Sanda Federation), This ...
(Date:5/28/2016)... , ... May 28, 2016 , ... In a part of the city where’s it’s ... new farm-to-table Kelowna restaurants is hoping to attract diners with a taste for ... Suites officially opened the doors to Cornerstone Grill, an urban casual restaurant focusing on ...
(Date:5/27/2016)... ... May 27, 2016 , ... Southland Log Homes , designer ... timber frame barn kits, which can be found on its website at SouthlandLogHomes.com. , ... barn plans, and they highlight the craftsmanship of timber post and beam construction. ...
(Date:5/27/2016)... ... May 27, 2016 , ... W.S. Badger Co. ... today that it has been recognized as one of the best small businesses for ... named as one of nine small businesses providing progressive benefits to new parents on ...
(Date:5/27/2016)... ... May 27, 2016 , ... With over 60 percent ... the demand for a sustainable product to aid in the rehabilitation process has steadily ... the recovery of individuals with hemiplegia due to stroke. , Ekso Bionics has now ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:5/25/2016)... SPRINGS, Florida , May 25, 2016 ... Business Conference & Expo earlier this month, the numbers ... As revenues continue to climb into the billions, more ... the newly released 4th Edition State of Legal Marijuana ... Frontier, a cannabis-focused data-analysis firm, much of the increase ...
(Date:5/25/2016)... , May 25, 2016 Digital Health ... to it by the US Patent and Trademark ... technology includes proprietary processes for electronic opt-­in and ... and wellness programs, HIPAA compliance and otherwise. ... "Our technology allows for ...
(Date:5/25/2016)... , May 25, 2016 ... the precision of circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) analysis ... the appointment of Professor Clive Morris ... leadership across the clinical development programme, scientific collaborations, ... help deliver significant improvements in clinical outcomes for ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: