Fundamental Research Advancing New Lupus Treatments

LRI Novel Research investigators presented stunning findings across a wide range of research from the earliest triggers that turn the immune system against the body to later complications that cause organ damage and increase the risk of blood clots and pregnancy loss.

In addition to advancing our understanding of how the lupus immune system causes harm, LRI researchers are also discovering how immune cells can put on the brakes to protect against self-destruction. Dr. Theresa Lu, Hospital for Special Surgery, showed how UV light causes protective immune cells to exit the skin, helping to explain how sun exposure triggers lupus skin rashes and flares as well as suggesting new ways to prevent this harmful reaction. Dr. Carla Rothlin, Yale University, reported on a family of proteins called TAM receptors that prevent the immune system from over-reacting and could form the basis of new therapies to turn off unwanted immune responses in lupus.

Women with lupus who become pregnant have an increased risk of pre-eclampsia – a condition that threatens the health of mother and fetus. Dr. Robert Winchester, Columbia University, reported early evidence that lupus-associated defects in specialized immune cells called natural killer cells might explain part of this increased risk.

Dr. Alexander Tarakhovsky, Rockefeller University, presented promising results looking at a new class of drugs known as epigenetic regulators that affect gene activation.
Dr. Tarakhosky is exploring the potential of this new treatment approach in partnership with GSK.