June 20, 2019
As reported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), research published by the NIH Accelerating Medicines Partnership (AMP) on Rheumatoid Arthritis and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (RA/SLE) “provides new insights into tissue damage for these autoimmune conditions.”
AMP RA/SLE is a public-private partnership between the NIH, the pharmaceutical industry and non-profit organizations, including the Lupus Research Alliance (LRA). The goal of this initiative is to increase the number of new diagnostics and therapies for patients and to reduce the time and cost of developing them.
About half of people with lupus develop lupus nephritis – a serious disease when the kidneys become inflamed and cannot effectively rid the body of waste products and other toxins. Surgically removing cells from the kidney has been widely used to monitor kidney damage and response to treatment. Two of the AMP studies published June 18 in Nature Immunology focus on ways to avoid these invasive kidney biopsies. These results and other data reported previously were also presented at the 2019 Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies (FOCIS) meeting of which the LRA is a sponsor.
Led by Betty Diamond, MD at The Feinstein Institute and Nir Hacohen, PhD at the Broad Institute, one study found subsets of white blood cells that show up in the urine of those with lupus. This suggests that a urine analysis might be used instead of biopsies.
Another important study led by Chaim Putterman, MD at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Thomas Tuschl, PhD at Rockefeller University and Jill Buyon, MD at New York University identified changes in specific molecules found in both kidney and skin cells. Their results showed it may be possible to analyze skin samples for these changes to track patients’ progress in the future.
“AMP is laying the foundation for precision medicine in rheumatoid arthritis and lupus,” said NIH Director Dr. Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. “The public and private sector working together has sparked new hope for those living with these and other autoimmune diseases, and we anticipate that these early results are only the beginning of what is serving as a new model to transform medical care.”
Referring to the AMP-related presentations at FOCIS, Lupus Research Alliance Chief Scientific Officer Teodora Staeva, PhD noted, “The community was impressed by the data and excited about the future findings from Phase 2 of the initiative. We at the Lupus Research Alliance are proud to be supporting the APM RA/SLE whose impact will be substantial.”
Read more about the many studies directly funded by the Lupus Research Alliance that also seek to improve care for lupus nephritis.