October 30, 2018
The Lupus Research Alliance is one of the sponsors of the Accelerating Medicines Partnership in Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus (AMP RA/Lupus), a public-private partnership between the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and several pharmaceutical companies and nonprofit organizations. AMP aims to speed the development of new therapies, and we are proud to report exciting progress. Findings presented at the ACR meeting from AMP RA/Lupus partnership-funded projects include:
Helper Cells Promote Attack
Deepak Rao, MD, PhD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and AMP colleagues identified a recently discovered type of T cell that is markedly expanded in patients with active lupus nephritis. Importantly, these type of T cells enable B cells to mount a robust immune system attack on patients’ tissues in lupus. The investigators originally found the cells, known as T peripheral helper cells, in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, but their new study shows that these cells are also abundant in patients with lupus kidney disease and can promote immune attacks.
Why African Americans are at Greatest Risk for Lupus
African-Americans are three times more likely to develop lupus, and their symptoms are often more severe. Andrea Fava, MD, of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and AMP colleagues may have discovered one reason why after they measured the activity of different genes in kidney tissue samples from African-American and Caucasian patients with lupus kidney disease. African-Americans showed higher activity of some genes that are induced by immune system molecules known as type I interferons that promote lupus symptoms.
Personalizing Nephritis Treatment Selection
Research by Thomas Tuschl, PhD, of Rockefeller University and his AMP colleagues could help scientists better understand how lupus harms the kidneys and could lead to new ways for doctors to decide what treatments to use for their patients. Doctors typically make those decisions by examining tissue samples from patients’ kidneys. The team found that analyzing RNAs (molecules that help cells produce proteins and perform other functions) from individual kidney cells provides information about how lupus affects different parts of the kidneys and why scar tissue builds up in the organs and damages them.
“The findings emerging from the AMP RA/Lupus Network provide important insights into the underlying mechanisms of lupus nephritis and identify new opportunities for intervention,” said Dr. Teodora Staeva, Chief Scientific Officer of the Lupus Research Alliance.