Epigenetics in Lupus
Bruce Richardson, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Michigan, was honored on June 25, 2014 as the second recipient of the Lupus Insight Prize for innovative research on lupus, an unpredictable and sometimes fatal autoimmune disease that affects an estimated 1.5 million Americans and at least five million people worldwide. Dr. Richardson discovered that some lupus-causing drugs alter gene activity or expression in normal “helper” lymphocytes, converting them into autoreactive “killer” lymphocytes that attack other cells and cause lupus in mice. He also found the same changes in gene expression in lymphocytes from patients with active lupus, and that many of the environmental agents implicated in lupus, as well as diet, contribute to the changes by altering gene expression. With the Lupus Insight Prize funds, Dr. Richardson will seek to identify the genes affected by environmental agents, and determine how these environmental agents and diet cause changes in lymphocytes.