Apr. 04, 2012

Biomarkers In The News: April issue of Translational Research highlights recent discoveries

The Lupus Foundation of America (LFA) is excited to see increased media attention surrounding lupus biomarkers, which are proteins, genes, and other markers found in the body that are useful for diagnosing a disease, measuring its activity, or measuring the effects of treatment. The April issue of Translational Research is dedicated to exploring the recent discoveries of biomarkers over the last few decades, and highlights critical studies conducted by LFA-funded researchers as well as others.

We congratulate LFA-funded researchers Joseph M. Ahearn, MD and Amy H. Kao, MD, and their colleagues Chau-Ching Liu, MD and Susan Manzi, MD from Allegheny-Singer Research Institute in Pittsburgh, PA on their article included in the Translational Research issue titled “Biomarkers for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus.” The article showcases the researchers’ progress in their research efforts to identify and characterize lupus biomarkers, and highlights their work on cell-bound complement activation products (CB-CAPS), which we recently reported on. It was this work with CB-CAPS that led to the development of a new “rule in/rule out” lupus test launched by Exagen Diagnostics, Inc. to help physicians make a faster and more accurate diagnosis of lupus. Lupus is a complex disease and it is unlikely that one blood test will serve all of the patients all of the time; however, a more refined way of looking for clues from the complement (inflammatory) proteins might be an improvement over tests that are commonly used today.

The LFA is dedicated to identifying and overcoming barriers that have stood in the way of advancing the science and medicine of lupus. Since biomarkers are involved in all aspects of medical research, many of the projects we fund through our national research program, Bringing Down the BarriersTM, or have stimulated through federal funding involve biomarkers, a key area of scientific interest for the LFA and one that the LFA has been instrumental in advancing.

Through our advocacy initiatives that began in 2003, the LFA has pioneered efforts to have lupus included as a disease area eligible for research funding through the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DoD) Congressionally Directed Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program (PRMRP). The LFA made a persuasive case to DoD officials that described the relevance of lupus research to military personnel and their dependents. These efforts have opened a new source of much needed funds to support research on lupus. Since including lupus and lupus biomarkers among the areas approved for funding, the PRMRP has awarded eight grants totaling more than $11.9 million in new funding to support important studies. Dr. Ahearn received one of these DoD grants for lupus research of biomarkers.

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