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:7/21/2017)... ... ... The Margarian Law Firm has filed a class action lawsuit against Dr. ... ginger. Dr. Pepper produces the “Canada Dry” brand of ginger ale products. In Gegham ... Ale claims on its bottle that it is made from real ginger. , When ...
(Date:7/21/2017)... ... July 21, 2017 , ... The Visiting ... the C. R. Bard Foundation, Inc. to support the music therapy ... service available through the nonprofit home care agency. Using evidence-based methods, professionally trained ...
(Date:7/21/2017)... ... July 21, 2017 , ... “Kids aren't born knowing how to regulate ... says Suzanne Tucker, Founder of St. Louis-based positive education company Generation Mindful. To help ... on Monday, July 21st. , The kit uses colorful, engaging and educational illustrations ...
(Date:7/21/2017)... ... July 21, 2017 , ... West Dermatology is pleased to announce ... Beginning July 17, 2017, Ms. Vu will join West Dermatology’s large network of medical ... dermatology, skin cancer , and more. She graduated from the University of Florida ...
(Date:7/21/2017)... ... July 21, 2017 , ... The most ... patients improved quality of life five years after injury, according to research presented ... in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The study followed patients for five years following surgery. ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:7/21/2017)... , July 21, 2017  Endo International plc ... completing a comprehensive review of its manufacturing network, the ... and distribution facilities in Huntsville, Alabama ... take place over the next 12 to 18 months. ... impacted by declining volumes of commoditized products and these ...
(Date:7/15/2017)... 2017 Enterin Inc., a Philadelphia ... (PD), today announced the completion of a $12.7 million Series ... III, as well as the participation of existing investors. ... have the support of New Ventures III and our current ... of the potential of our platform technology to transform the ...
(Date:7/13/2017)... -- New York City-based market research firm Kalorama Information notes seven ... From new products to new costs, to the threat of ... study, Potential Pipeline Disruptors . Among them ... 1.  Age-Driven Growth - True Impact Moment Arriving   ... the growing population and, to a more extreme extent, the ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: