Leading the way to a cure


Selective Blocking of the Plasma-Cell Survival Factor APRIL in SLE

Santiago-Raber, Marie-Laure, PhD

Centre Médical Universitaire (Switzerland)

Current treatments for lupus involve a variety of non-specific anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressant agents that are relatively ineffective and have significant side effects. Targeting specific cellular and/or molecular pathways in the disease could lead to more effective therapies with fewer negative effects. 

We know that in people with lupus, cells from the immune system called B cells produce antibodies against “self” components. They produce these antibodies after changing into plasma cells. Normally, plasma cells that produced autoantibodies should die through a mechanism called apoptosis. But proteins called APRIL enable the survival of these plasma cells by protecting them from apoptosis. 

With their ALR grant, Dr. Santiago-Raber and her team plan to destroy these autoantibody-secreting plasma cells in animal models of lupus by blockading their access to APRIL. Their goal is to see if this affects the development and consequences of the disease. 

What this study means for people with lupus: The results from this work will provide valuable information into the role of APRIL in the development of lupus, and will show whether blockading APRIL will reduce lupus severity in animal models. Eventually, this work could lead to the development of new treatments.