Leading the way to a cure

Lupus Research Update: 2009 Volume 4

Volume 4, 2009 - Online Edition | In This Issue

Thinking Outside of Boundaries >
Message from the President >
The ALR Holds Key Industry Workshop on Lupus Clinical Trials >
Faces of Lupus — Thanks to Walkers on our 10th Anniversary >
Jets Kick Off Season of Hope >
Take Advantage of Tax Benefits — Make Your Year-End Gift Today! >
A "Driving" Force for Lupus Research >
Good News from Lupus Clinical Trials >

Thinking Outside of Boundaries

Dr. Joseph CraftMany factors coalesced to spur the ALR’s remarkable growth in the past 10 years — but clearly our prestigious Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) played a key role. These renowned experts in the fields of lupus and autoimmunity have brought their invaluable guidance to the development of a research plan that has enabled the ALR to chart new ground in lupus research.

In celebration of the ALR’s 10th Anniversary, we turn to former SAB chair, Dr. Joseph Craft for his unique perspective on our past accomplishments and the challenges we face today.

Setting the Leading Pace in Lupus Research

Like any new organization, the ALR faced some hurdles when it was founded.

Ten years later, Dr. Craft explains that one of these challenges was attracting new researchers to push the envelope: "Most research was being done by individuals who had been doing it for years. So we looked to investigators who previously had not worked in this field — such as Dr. Jacques Banchereau, who led the way in the study of interferon."

It was also during Dr. Craft's tenure, that the ALR again assumed a leadership role through SLEGEN, the international collaborative effort to look at lupus from a standpoint of genetics. "SLEGEN gave us knowledge — the genetic underpinnings of the disease," stated Dr. Craft.

The SLEGEN results underscore the critical role that genetic variants play in predisposing an individual to developing lupus. And now that these genes have been identified, scientists have the opportunity to target research to these specific genes — opening up limitless possibilities.

In looking back on ten extraordinary years of research, Dr. Craft said, "The ALR brought together many efforts to better our understanding of lupus — resulting in an explosion in knowledge ... and an explosion in therapeutic approaches, many of which are in clinical trials today."

Blazing New Paths of Discovery

Noting how much has changed in the past ten years, Dr. Craft is quick to point out that today there are "many positive avenues of inquiry." He went on to say that "One major step was ALR-funded investigation in B-cells. Today, Benlysta — which may be the first new drug for lupus in 50 years — looks very promising."

1.5 million

people in the U.S. have Lupus.

172 million

dollars committed to lupus research by the Lupus Research Alliance.

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