Leading the way to a cure


Targeting IRF5 activation for the treatment of lupus Abstract

Barnes, Betsy, PhD

UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School

While we still don’t understand all the underlying causes of lupus, we do know that it tends to run in families, suggesting a strong genetic component. Indeed, researchers have already identified several genes associated with the disease. One such gene encodes for he transcription factor interferon regulatory factor 5 (IRF5), which helps control the expression of several inflammatory molecules that contribute to the disease. Dr. Barnes and her team found that people with lupus have significantly higher levels of IRF5 expressed in primary immune cells than healthy people, and that this higher expression is associated with known changes in the IRF5 gene that are linked to lupus risk. In addition, recent data suggests that IRF5 is continually activated in the blood cells of people with lupus but not in those without the disease. With their ALR grant, the researchers plan to modify the activation status of IRF5 in the immune cells of lupus patients, thus altering the ability of IRF5 to trigger inflammatory responses that likely contribute to the disease.
What this study means for people with lupus: Results from these studies will not only contribute to a greater understanding of the actions of IRF5, but could aid in the development of new treatments that target the protein to prevent lupus and its symptoms.

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