Leading the way to a cure


The Complement System as a Therapeutic Target for Lupus

Tomlinson, Stephen, PhD

Medical University of South Carolina

Complement is the term given to a collection of blood proteins that form an important part of the immune system. Under normal conditions, complement has various protective roles, such as defense against invading microorganisms and modulation of immune responses. However, in lupus, complement inappropriately targets tissues in the patient’s body and plays a key role in causing inflammation and tissue damage. This project will investigate the role of different parts of the complement system in the pathogenesis (development) of lupus. The goals are to develop novel types of therapies that will inhibit complement only at the site of tissue damage and to test the safety and effectiveness of these therapies in mouse models of lupus. Promising results have been obtained in experiments with systemic (body-wide) complement inhibitors for the treatment of inflammation, but their use for treating lupus may exacerbate symptoms, since complement is also involved in normal protective processes that are important in people with lupus.

What this study means for people with lupus: Strategies to target complement inhibitors to the site of complement-associated tissue damage could provide significant improvements in effectiveness and safety over systemic complement inhibitors. If therapeutic studies in mouse models of lupus are successful, Dr. Tomlinson and his colleagues will make plans to translate this approach for testing and use in lupus patients.

1.5 million

people in the U.S. have Lupus.

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