Leading the way to a cure

Lupus Research Update: 2011 Volume 1

Volume 1, 2011 - Online Edition | In This Issue

Grasping an Understanding of Lupus in Children >
Pediatric Specialists offer Insights into Treating Lupus >
Faces of Lupus: A Mother’s Perspective >
New Technology Offers New Hope >
The ALR Announces New TIL Grantees >
Lupus News Corner >

Grasping an Understanding of Lupus in Children

While adults who are diagnosed with lupus often experience a range of emotions, they generally have the ability to process their feelings. But, when a youngster or teenager is diagnosed with the disease, it’s all the more confusing for the child and worrisome for the parents.

In addition to the difficulty in determining an actual diagnosis, lupus in children is a serious challenge to treat. Clearly, it has a direct impact on the child’s life — but a diagnosis of lupus can affect nearly every aspect of family life.

As in adults with lupus, current treatment options can have many physical and emotional side effects. Children must also cope with often-grueling pressure to “fit in” and peer rejection is apt to lower their self-esteem.

Today, the Alliance for Lupus Research (ALR) is looking for answers to benefit both children and adults by funding the world’s most promising scientific investigations to advance the understanding of lupus, develop new treatments, and ultimately cure this debilitating disease.

And building on our revolutionary breakthrough discovery linking specific genes to lupus, we’ve created the Functional Genomics and Molecular Genetic Pathway grants and award them to brilliant scientists like Dr. Earl Silverman at the Hospital for Sick Children in Canada.

With his grant, Dr. Silverman is examining whether the number of lupus-associated genes present in children differs from the number of these genes present in adults with the disease. Scientists already know that there is a common set of genes in both children and adults with lupus. Dr. Silverman’s investigation is looking to determine whether different genes are at play in patients with different ages of onset.

Dr. Silverman is hopeful he’ll discover new insights into childhood lupus: “We will, for the first time, study whether children are at a higher genetic risk for lupus and determine if there is an interaction of organ-specific genes with lupus-related genes. This will tell us if there is a higher frequency of these genes in lupus patients with organ-specific manifestations — and if it holds true in both children and adults.”

Dr. Silverman believes children have more genes predisposing them towards lupus, that they get sicker than adults, and that their symptoms can be even more severe. In speaking with him, it is apparent that Dr. Silverman is a man of compassion who understands the angst that children with lupus feel. “They can get puffy cheeks and stretch marks. Weight gain can be on the thighs, the stomach. And treatment can cause pimples and increases facial hair — just what a teenager needs.”

This study is just one of many promising investigations that the ALR is funding. Lupus is one of the most complex diseases and ALR-funded scientists, like Dr. Silverman, are devoted to fitting together many puzzling pieces to get a clear understanding of the disease and how to treat and cure it.

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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