The ALPHA Project
The First Step to Moving Lupus Research Forward
The ALPHA Project: What is it?
ALPHA stands for Addressing Lupus Pillars for Health Advancement. The Project is a comprehensive, multi-phase, global consensus initiative aimed not only at identifying and prioritizing the top challenges in the lupus field, but also creating actionable solutions to address these issues and stimulate progress.
The goal of the ALPHA Project is to bring together international lupus experts to develop and implement strategies to address the critical barriers toward improving outcomes in lupus.
The Project is led by the Lupus Foundation of America in collaboration with the Tufts University School of Medicine Center for the Study of Drug Development and a Global Advisory Committee (GAC) of lupus experts representing industry, academia and the patient voice.
Symptoms of lupus may look similar to symptom associated with other medical conditions and vary a lot from patient to patient.
People with lupus often use treatments not approved for lupus, making it difficult to get them covered by insurance and to deal with their side effects.
There is no one test and no set criteria of signs and symptoms for lupus, placing diagnosis and treatment is far behind other autoimmune diseases.
- Identify knowledge gaps both in clinical care and research
- Create consensus around the fundamental pillars that are missing in the field and stalling drug development and progress
- Pave a path forward for more accurate and timelier diagnosis, greater access to care, and improved treatment options for people with lupus
- Result in an actionable, documented, and published roadmap that is meaningful and useful to everyone in the field, no matter where they are in the world
We know that the level and quality of data and research addressing issues related to lupus care, treatment, and healthcare access are not consistent across the global field. For example, there are differences in opinion when it comes to disease definition, treatment regiments, diagnostic criteria, and clinical trial design. The forum and opportunity to develop consensus around these issues had not existed.
This lack of consensus has led to a poor understanding about lupus, the inability to diagnose lupus in a timely fashion, especially by physicians with less experience in lupus, and a string of clinical trials of potential new treatments that failed to reach their primary endpoints and preventing them from being approved for use in treating lupus.
- Established a geographically and professionally diverse Global Advisory Committee (GAC) of lupus thought leaders to guide and oversee the study
- Conducted in-depth interviews to obtain further opinions and detailed rationale for the most urgent barriers in the field and access the level of existing agreement across the lupus expert community
- Conducted a global online survey of lupus experts focusing on the attitudes and perceptions about lupus and prioritization of the most pressing challenges to improve diagnosis, care, treatment and research
- Analyzed the survey results to identify and prioritize the barriers as ranked by the survey participants
Lupus heterogeneity (diversity of the disease and the many manifestations or ways that it can impact the body) was identified as the primary barrier impeding the development of clinically meaningful treatments, the advancement of clinical care, and improvements to access and value. The study validated known challenges in lupus, identifying the five top barriers to improving outcomes in lupus:
- Lack of diagnostic, predictive and prognostic biomarkers for lupus and deficiency of biomarkers to predict drug response in clinical trials;
- Flawed clinical trial design;
- Lack of access to clinicians familiar with lupus/limited awareness of lupus among non-expert medical professionals;
- Barriers to the effective management of lupus due to social determinants of care in predominantly lower socioeconomic status areas;
- And, lack of treatment adherence.
The ALPHA team will continue to engage stakeholders and support further research endeavors to characterize key barriers and further explore and conceptualize the lupus spectrum. An international stakeholder meeting has been set for January 2020 to develop a global roadmap of specific recommendations to address the top challenges identified. Recommendations may include multi-pronged strategies involving regulatory and advocacy efforts, scientific consensus building and concerted communication programs. We also recognize targeted approaches may be needed to address specific populations, such as children with lupus.
- Kathleen Arntsen | Lupus and Allied Diseases Association, Inc., U.S.
- Sang-Cheol Bae, MD, PhD, MPH | Hanyang University, South Korea
- Ian Bruce, MD, FRCP | University of Manchester, U.K.
- Erin Connolly-Strong, PhD | Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, U.S.
- Karen Costenbader, MD, MPH | Brigham and Women’s Hospital, U.S.
- Brad Dickerson | Aurinia Pharmaceuticals, U.S.
- Thomas Dörner, MD | Charité University, Germany
- Amy Kao, MD, MPH, MS | EMD Serono Research & Development Institute, Inc. (a business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany)
- Sue Manzi, MD, MPH | Allegheny Health Network, U.S.
- Eric Morand, MBBS (Hons), FRACP, PhD | Monash University, Australia
- Sandra Raymond | Lupus Foundation of America, U.S.
- Brad Rovin, MD, FACP, FASN | Ohio State University, U.S.
- Laura Schanberg, MD | Duke University Medical Center, U.S.
- Joan Von Feldt, MD, MSEd | GlaxoSmithKline, U.S.
- Victoria Werth, MD | University of Pennsylvania and Philadelphia VAMC, U.S.
The ALPHA Project was launched in partnership with founding partner EMD Serono Research & Development, Inc. (a business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany) and through additional support by GlaxoSmithKline.
The continued support and additional contributions of Aurinia Pharmaceuticals and Mallinckrodt have made current Phase II efforts possible.
If you are a representative of a pharmaceutical company and are interested in supporting the ALPHA Project, or if you would like to receive the ALPHA Newsletter, please contact Donna Grogan at [email protected]
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