Jun. 23, 2016

Research on Infections Reveals Inequality Between the Sexes

This week, Scientific American published a story by Sara Reardon on the differences between men's and women’s immune responses.

As Reardon points out, there is a dramatic difference in the prevalence of lupus among men and women. Ninety percent of people diagnosed with lupus are women, although the disease is fundamentally the same—and is treated similarly—in both sexes.

The Lupus Foundation of America has funded research to uncover what drives the differences in the risk of developing lupus between men and women, in hopes of understanding the disease and ultimately, facilitate the development of new therapeutic approaches designed to prevent and treat lupus.

While it may be true, as Reardon argues, that there is a tendency among the research community to overlook the differences between men and women, it is an important consideration in some disease areas, as sex-based differences may be the key to unlocking the mysteries of the disease and getting closer to treatments and cures.

Lupus is a prime example of the need for studies that consider the differences between men and women, and we will continue to support research that does so.

An example of the research we've supported is the work of Dr. Bruce Richardson, a grantee of the Lupus Foundation of America since 2009 and winner in 2014 of the Lupus Insight Prize. Dr. Richardson has looked at various factors, including the environment and genetics, which alter regulatory immune cells and contribute to lupus in men. Follow this link for more information on this work, and a video of Dr. Richardson discussing the genetic and epigentic modeling of lupus in men. 

The original article referenced can be accessed here.

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