Leading the way to a cure


Interferon Pathway and Human Lupus: New Opportunities for Diagnosis and Therapy

Behrens, Timothy, MD

University of Minnesota

With previous support from the ALR, Dr. Behrens’ laboratory has shown that the activity of a group of genes regulated by interferons (proteins that have potent effects on the immune system) is dramatically increased in blood cells from lupus patients. These findings, together with additional evidence from several other laboratories, suggest that the interferon pathway may be an important target for new lupus therapies. Dr. Behrens will continue studies to identify additional genes that are abnormally regulated in lupus patients. He will use the results of these studies to develop a novel, gene-based diagnostic test for lupus and to develop laboratory tests that can predict disease flares and other adverse events in lupus patients. Dr. Behrens will also work with colleagues in academia and industry to develop potential therapies that block the actions of interferon that lead to abnormal gene activity in lupus and will conduct preliminary tests of these compounds that would set the stage for initial testing in lupus patients.

What this study means for people with lupus: Dr. Behrens’ research should lead to the development of more accurate diagnostic tests for lupus and provide doctors with better ways to monitor and predict disease activity that could help guide therapy. These studies may also lead to the development of novel therapies that block the harmful actions of interferon in people with lupus without impairing interferon’s normal, virus-fighting effects.

1.5 million

people in the U.S. have Lupus.

172 million

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