July 3, 2019
Avoiding the sun is something most people with lupus know they just have to live with. About half of people with lupus experience a “malar” rash that may appear across the cheeks and bridge of the nose in the shape of a butterfly. Many are sensitive to sunlight (called photosensitivity) meaning that they can develop rashes on any part of the body after being exposed to the sun. And these rashes can be the first sign of a flare.
But several scientists supported by the Lupus Research Alliance are determined to find out why people with lupus get these rashes and aim to find ways to prevent them.
Dr. Theresa Lu, Hospital for Special Surgery
For instance, with her Lupus Research Alliance grant, Dr. Theresa Lu and colleagues found that one type of skin cell that protects the skin during sun exposure is less abundant and does not work properly in people with lupus. Other scientists are now performing a clinical trial that is testing whether a cream that soothes rashes in patients with cancer, and based on her work, Dr. Lu suggests this may help protect people with lupus from the sun. Read More
Dr. Jillian Richmond, University of Massachusetts Medical School
Patients with cutaneous lupus develop rashes because immune cells move into the skin and cause inflammation. With a Target Identification in Lupus grant from the Lupus Research Alliance, Dr. Jillian Richmond and colleagues found what lures the immune cells into the skin of people with cutaneous lupus. She and her colleagues have been testing potential treatments in mouse models that block the molecules that attract immune cells might also be helpful.
Dr. Victoria Werth, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
In a presentation hosted by the Lupus Research Alliance, Dr. Victoria Werth shared results showing that when treated with the cancer drug lenalidomide, patients with cutaneous lupus who had not been helped by other drugs saw their symptoms significantly improve in a short time frame. This work has led to further studies finding benefit for people with skin lupus with lenalidomide and a related drug investigational drug CC-220.