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Lupus Foundation of Minnesota grant helps move clinical test closer to market

Research funded by the Lupus Foundation of Minnesota leads to a new clinical test that predicts lupus flares

 
PRLog - Dec. 9, 2010 - BLOOMINGTON, Minn. -- University of Minnesota researchers are getting closer to developing a test that could help doctors see when flares are imminent in patients with systemic lupus erythematous (SLE or lupus), an autoimmune disease that affects 1.5 millions Americans.  Lupus is characterized by disease manifestations called flares and currently there is no way to predict them.

The Lupus Foundation of Minnesota granted Assistant Professor Emily Baechler Gillespie, Ph.D., and her team $25,000 to help support her research efforts, along with funding a student summer fellow on the project. The research seeks to identify flares before they occur in lupus patients by using a chemokine test, which monitors lupus disease activity. The clinical test could help physicians better manage lupus.

“Our research shows that a test could be developed that is predictive for the majority of lupus patients, so it should help physicians to more effectively manage the disease and hopefully improve patient quality of life,” said Gillespie. Before the researchers received the Lupus Foundation of Minnesota grant, their genetic studies had been limited to Caucasian patients.

“Aiming to improve the lives of lupus patients, the Lupus Foundation of Minnesota has awarded more than $1.94 million dollars to fund a variety of research initiatives over the past two decades,” LFM President Jennifer Monroe stated. “We have worked diligently to continue to raise funds in support of lupus research and are proud to support Dr. Gillespie in these groundbreaking efforts.”

The technology currently in development by Dr. Gillespie is based on a research project that began in 2002. Using an algorithm developed by Jason Bauer, a former postdoctoral associate in Gillespie’s lab, the test analyzes blood samples for a panel of four chemokines, a group of proteins that are released by an activated immune system.

The change in these chemokine levels can indicate that the patient is at greater risk for a flare, which may enable the physician to adjust the treatment regime to prevent or mitigate the effects of the flare. Physicians presently have no reliable way to predict a flare, which means that patients are usually not seen until after symptoms have developed and irreversible organ damage has occurred, resulting in increased pain and risk for more complications, and requiring additional medications.

Testing for the chemokines will now be done in additional patients from multiple clinical sites around the country, said Dr. Gillespie, and ultimately an interventional trial will be designed in which preventative treatments are used in an attempt to reduce the frequency and/or severity of flares in patients with elevated chemokine levels.

For 35 years, the Lupus Foundation of Minnesota has been serving those affected by lupus, raising awareness and funding research in an ongoing effort to improve the lives of others. LFM has always shown an intense commitment to research, including awarding more than $1.94 million dollars toward lupus research in the last 20 years. For more information, contact Sara Otto, Vice President of Development, at 952-746-5151 or sotto@lupusmn.org.

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The Lupus Foundation of Minnesota's mission is to serve those affected by lupus, raise awareness and fund research in an ongoing effort to improve the lives of others.

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Source:Lupus Foundation of Minnesota
Phone:952-746-5151
Zip:55425
Location:Bloomington - Minnesota - United States
Industry:Health, Medical, Non-profit
Tags:lupus, systemic lupus erythematous, sle, emily baechler gillespie, lupus foundation of minnesota, autoimmune disease
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