HOME
Leading the way to a cure

Lupus Research Update: 2006 Volume 3

Volume 3, 2006 - Online Edition | In This Issue


Meet the Investigator >
Pilot Grant Program >
Research Results - Using Cholesterol Levels to Screen for Worsening Lupus-Related Kidney Disease >
Research Results - New Genetic Findings Linked to Lupus in Mouse Models >
Research Results - Rituximab for Lupus Shows Promise >
Research Results - New Target for Treatment Identified >
Advocacy Update - Senator Charles Schumer Champions Lupus Research >
Beyond the Research - The ALR Walks Nationwide >
Drug Research and Development News >

Research Results - New Target for Treatment Identified

In the alphabet soup that is your immune system, T cells and B cells take center stage in the development of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). T cells organize immune responses and help B cells make autoantibodies, such as the anti-double stranded DNA (anti-dsDNA) antibody which is frequently associated with lupus nephritis. However, T cells must be fully activated to perform these tasks.

Full activation of T cells requires at least two different signals, one from T cell receptors (TCR) and the other from costimulatory molecules like CD28 and inducible co-stimulator (ICOS).Together, these signals enable T cells to proliferate, or reproduce, to secrete cytokines, or regulatory proteins, and to collaborate with B cells to produce the autoantibodies that may lead to the onset or exacerbation of SLE.

Following animal studies suggesting ICOS’ involvement in the underlying mechanism of various autoimmune diseases, including SLE, Japanese researchers decided to investigate its possible role in human SLE.

They obtained blood from 22 patients with active SLE, 17 whose SLE was in remission, and 24 without SLE (the control group). They found that T cells from lupus patients, especially those in active disease, expressed significantly higher levels of ICOS than those from the control group. This, in turn, enabled greater proliferation of T cells, which could help B cells produce anti-dsDNA antibody more efficiently than if the T cells had been activated via another costimulatory molecule such as CD28.

The bottom line? “We now have a new target for possible treatments,” says study researcher Masayoshi Harigai, MD, PhD, of Tokyo Medical and Dental University. “Blockading the ICOS and ICOSL interaction by monoclonal antibody or soluble ICOS may be a novel strategy for the treatment of SLE.”

Kawamoto M, Harigai M, Hara M, et al. Expression and function of inducible co-stimulator in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus: possible involvement in excessive interferon-gamma and anti-double-stranded DNA antibody production. Arthritis Research & Therapy. 2006;8(3):R62

Just the Facts

What the study showed:
T cells in lupus patients express large amounts of a molecule called ICOS that enables more T cells to grow. This, in turn, can help B cells produce anti-doublestranded DNA antibody more efficiently.

What it means:
The possibility of a new, targeted treatment for lupus

What's next:
Efforts to develop such a treatment


1.5 million

people in the U.S. have Lupus.

100 million

dollars committed to lupus research by the Alliance for Lupus Research.


We're walking across the United States to raise awareness and funds for lupus research.

Can't make it? Join our National Virtual Walk to participate anytime, anywhere.


Show your support by visiting the Alliance for Lupus Research online store. Discover the perfect gift, or prepare for a walk with our selection of apparel and accessories.