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Lupus Research Update: 2011 Volume 4

Volume 4, 2011 - Online Edition | In This Issue


Leading the Way to a Cure >
Research in Action: Clinical Trial Study Offers New Hope >
Understanding Lupus: Terminology and Processes >
Faces of Lupus: A Voice for Many >
10 Reasons Why Donor Support Remains Critical >
Lupus News Corner >

Research in Action

Clinical Trial Study Offers New Hope

In investigating alternatives to current lupus therapies— many of which have significant side effects — Dr. Andras Perl has taken an innovative approach that has recently moved beyond the laboratory and is now in clinical trials.

Dr. Perl and his team at the Upstate Medical University of the State University of New York are looking at ways to replenish a lost natural antioxidant, called glutathione (GSH), in the T cells of patients with lupus.

T cells help control the body’s immune response and the lack of GSH may be a key factor in abnormal activation of inflammation and cell death. (See description of lupus processes in column to the left.)

Dr. Perl’s solution involves looking at the obvious — administer N-acetylcysteine (NAC), an amino acid available over-the-counter, which helps the body create GSH.

By boosting T cells and replenishing low levels of GSH, Dr. Perl hopes that the need for prednisone and other immunosuppressant medications may be reduced and perhaps eliminated in some lupus patients.

The Specific Application

The clinical trial phase of Dr. Perl’s study consists of two parts:

Part 1 will establish the optimal daily oral dose of NAC — that can be well tolerated without side effects — to normalize or moderate the depletion of GSH in the T cells of people with lupus. Thirty-six lupus subjects and 42 healthy controls are being studied.

Part 2 will determine the tolerance and impact of two NAC doses on disease activity and prednisone use in 165 subjects with lupus in a double-blind placebo-controlled 12-month study. It is designed to detect clinically meaningful differences in disease activity in patient populations.

The ALR has helped advance Dr. Perl’s investigations by laying the foundations of this pioneering work with more than $800,000 through two of our Target Identification in Lupus grants. "We all know that the side effects of taking anti-inflammatory medications can be severe," said Dr. Perl in a recent interview. "This is why I am so encouraged by our initial findings. If proven effective, this approach could alleviate much suffering."


 

Dr. Andras Perl is a world-renowned autoimmune disease expert with more than 30 years of experience. He has conducted several critical investigations in autoimmune disease, including lupus. Dr. Perl also practices rheumatology and internal medicine in Syracuse, New York.



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