Stephen H. Clarke, PhD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

"Autoreactive B Cells in Human Systemic Lupus Erythematosus"
Year-Two Funding

2008 Mid-to-Late Stage Translational Lupus Research Grant Award

This grant award is made possible through support of the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation in memory of Michael Jon Barlin

B cells are central to systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) because they can produce disease-causing autoantibodies. How to distinguish B cells that produce disease-causing antibodies from those that do not has limited our understanding of this disease. However, we recently found that some SLE patients have abnormal B cells. These B cells produce autoantibodies and are present primarily in patients that experience severe outcomes, particularly neurologic and kidney disease. We plan to determine what kinds of autoantibodies these cells produce and whether their abnormalities make them more likely to be activated. The results may justify treatments to eliminate these cells.