- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
Lupus - Hope for Lupus Disease
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Statiistics
Lupus is an acute and chronic autoimmune disease in which the immune system is unbalanced, causing inflammation and tissue damage to virtually any organ in the body. Lupus can be unpredictable and potentially fatal, yet no satisfactory treatment or cure exists. Individuals with lupus have significantly higher rates of cardiovascular disease as well.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic, life-threatening autoimmune disease. Approximately 5,000,000 people worldwide, including approximately 1.5 million in the United States, suffer from various forms of lupus, including SLE. Lupus can occur at any age, but appears mostly in young people ages 15 to 45.
About 90 percent of those diagnosed with lupus are women. African-American women are about three times more likely to develop lupus, and it is also more common in Hispanic, Asian and American Indian women. Men can also get lupus, and they typically have a severe case.
Effects of lupus on the Body
Lupus Disease Symptoms for Diagnosis
Lupus is a difficult disease to diagnosis as there is not a specific blood test. A good rheumatologist is a must if you think you might have lupus. One of the tests they will order is the ANA blood test as 97% lupus patients are positive in this test. They will look specifically for the following symptoms:
Common Symptoms Include:
- Malar butterfly rash over the cheeks of the face (only affects about 15%)
- anemia ( may be low red or white blood cells or low platelets)
- low grade fever -over 100 degrees
- chronic fatigue
- arthritis - two or more tender, swollen joints of the extremities
- kidney damage - spilling protein, red blood cells or white blood cell casts into your urine
- pleurisy - an inflammation in the lining of your lungs which causes pain
- pericarditis - an inflammation in the lining of your heart, also very uncomfortable
- alopecia hair loss
- Raynaud's phenomenon - an autoimmune disease affecting the circulation of blood in your fingers causing numb, purple fingers
- Brain irritation causing seizures
- Mucous membrane disorders - ulcerations of the mouth or nose
- Antinuclear antibody -positive ANA blood test
The more symptom a person has from the above list, the greater likelihood they have lupus, usually 4-7 confirm a diagnosis
It has been fifty-one years since a new drug has been developed to treat lupus patients. Lupus symptoms have been treated with such things as Plaquenil, prednisone and other chemotherapy type medications.
Finally we are seeing some new drugs on the market, such as Benlysta, which is specifically treats this disease.
What Is Lupus
Advances in Research
The mission of HGS is to apply great science and great medicine to bring innovative drugs to patients with unmet medical needs. The HGS clinical development pipeline includes novel drugs to treat lupus, hepatitis C, inhalation anthrax and cancer.
Many pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies have been running dozens of clinical trials to evaluate new treatment and medications; so much progress has been achieved. GlaxoSmithKline and Human Genome Sciences, ViforPharma, and UCB and Immunomedics, Inc. all recently reported promising results for potential new treatments for lupus. The Lupus Foundation has announced that we are moving toward a new era in the treatment of lupus where it is a chronic but manageable disease. They have funded a study for lupus induced cardiovascular disease.
The clinical trial designs have been difficult due to a number of factors, but specifically, it is a genetically complex disease, which means that multiple genes as well as non-genetic factors contribute to a person's risk for the disease. More than 20 genes have been identified that influence a person's risk for lupus.
New Drugs for Lupus Erythemous
One of the therapies that is used for patients in a life threatening situation is adult stem cell transplantation. A pilot study indicates that certain patients have achieved a sustained remission without any drugs for up to five years. This is particularly important for those with severe disease and major organ involvement.
The Human Genome Sciences and GlaxoSmithKline have completed phase III of a study for the new drug Benlysta. Other medications have had a more blanket effect on the body, which often results in unpleasant side effects.
It has been very well tolerated by patients. After the final phase, this drug received FDA approval which will make it the first lupus drug in 51 years.
The promising trial results announed by Vifor Pharma, Galencia Group, and Roche demonstrating that the drug CellCept® (mycophenolate mofetil) helps in maintaining remission of lupus nephritis. Patients treated for up to 3 years, patients in the trial taking Cellcept (mycophenolate mofetil) went a significantly longer time without nephritis or serious renal damage or death. CellCept® and other stronger immunosuppressant drugs are often used on patients after they receive organ transplants.
The new drugs are significant as approximately 1 in 3 people with lupus develop kidney disease, and even after successful treatment of the complication they can still relapse. CellCept is not a new drug as it has been used on those who have had kidney transplants for many years. I took this drug for approximately 3 years and my kidney function improved, and I have been in a normal range ever since. I will say this drug is great for the kidneys, but it does not help with other symptoms of Lupus like arthritis, anemia, etc.
Lupus Research Institute
The impact of lupus on an individual and the way a physician may best treat them has really been poorly understood as how to give that individual can have a better quality of life. Researchers are looking at depression, stress and body image, which all effect a person’s quality of life.
From a personal perspective, as I was diagnosed with lupus for 35 years ago, stress is a huge factor. When I am in a crisis or even just stressed I can function well and get through the situation, but about a week later I have so much joint pain that I am back on narcotics and unable to keep up with routine daily chores.
There is a price to be paid when you take strong medications over the years. for instance, serious osteoporosis occurs after years of taking Prednisone. On the bright side treatment today allows 80-90 percent of patients to have a normal lifespan.
Lupus Research Institute
The Lupus Research Institute (LRI) National Coalition of state and local lupus organizations organizes meetings with presentations from scientist from around the world. They are a global leader in identifying bold and promising scientific hypotheses in lupus. They believe so much about this complex; difficult disease is not yet understood. They encourage researchers to think outside the box, to think creatively.
The LRI is alarmed at needed focus for children who have lupus. Children and adolescents with lupus are 2-3 times more likely than adults to develop kidney disease, central nervous system complications, and hematologic (blood) disease. Of course, with children they have the opportunity to become involved with the disease at a younger age and may have better outcomes.
Finally, new medication are now available. The results from the Benysta studies are excellent. It is given over a 2 hour period via an IV line. Several people have been able to cut back on other medications, such as prednisone.
There are several drugs that are continued to be studied as scientist attempt to understand lupus. Stem cell therapy will probably become a major player in lupus, as it is being studied with many diseases. There is hope for the future now that they finally have focused much more energy in research
The copyright, renewed in 2018, for this article is owned by Pamela Oglesby. Permission to republish this article in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.