Funding Promising Research
We fund research focused on unlocking the mystery of lupus and identifying a cure for this devastating disease. Areas of special interest include research aimed at discovering what causes lupus, explaining how it progresses and designing methods to improve early diagnosis and treatment.
- Diagnostics: In 2008, LFA funded investigation of a protein thought to be a lupus biomarker, which could be helpful in diagnosing lupus. Findings from this research were used to develop the AVISE™ SLE diagnostic test. It helps doctors accurately diagnose lupus by ruling out other diseases. AVISE™ is more efficient and less expensive than previous tests. The AVISE™ SLE blood test is available through Exagen Diagnostics, Inc.
- Adult stem cells: A clinical research trial with LFA support is designed to improve health outcomes by using adult stem cell transfusions for people with lupus who are not responding to their medications. Another LFA-funded study is investigating the potential for stem cell transplantation to see how long subjects can tolerate treatment compared with those with lupus who received conventional therapy and who are in clinical remissions to healthy controls. [Note: No government, ethical or religious restrictions are imposed on adult stem cell research.]
- Biomarkers: We awarded a $500,000, five-year grant in 2014 for research aimed at developing the first urine test to assess disease activity in the kidneys and replace painful biopsies. The project is a new approach to managing lupus that affects the kidneys, known as lupus nephritis, and may lead to the first test for this type of lupus. The biomarkers identified in this study have the potential to be used as targeted therapies for lupus.
- Epigenetics: Epigenetics is the study of activity within genes. We provided $200,000 to study the effects of environmental stressors and diet on the severity of lupus flares, identification of therapeutic targets for new lupus treatments, and ability to prevent lupus flares.
- Pregnancy: LFA-funded research demonstrated that pregnant women with antiphospholipid antibodies (aPL), which are present in one-third of lupus patients and increase risk of blood clots, triggered an inflammatory response in the placenta. The study investigated early miscarriage and late pregnancy complications and its findings may lead to new therapeutic targets to improve pregnancy outcomes in women with aPL.
- Personalized Medicine: In 2002, we funded a two-year project studying immune cell defects in lupus. The researcher is now a leader in the study of defects in immune cells called B cells and targeted therapies in lupus. She is an investigator on the Accelerating Medicines Partnership, the first national cross-sector collaboration working to identify ways to better diagnose and treat lupus. LFA continues to support this research through our grant program.
- Environmental Triggers: We funded research that found that environmental triggers may result in earlier onset of disease symptoms. Using this data, the researcher is now identifying the genes affected by environmental agents and is determining how these environmental agents and diet contribute to lupus.
- Standardized treatment plan for newly diagnosed lupus nephritis in children: An LFA-funded grant produced a standardized treatment plan for newly diagnosed lupus nephritis in children. The plan is expected to improve the prognosis of children with lupus nephritis and lead to safer therapies and is indorsed by a majority of pediatric rheumatologists.
Biomarkers in children: A new LFA-funded study suggests that new approaches to neuroimaging may help identify biomarkers for cognitive impairments for children with lupus nephritis. The study findings add to research that seeks to better understand the neurologic and psychiatric symptoms associated with pediatric lupus.