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Clinical Trial Network for Lupus Formed

Network illustration

(Gerd Altmann, Pixabay)

17 October 2016. A network of medical researchers is being assembled to conduct clinical trials to test new therapies for lupus and drugs approved for other disorders that may also treat the disease. The Lupus Clinical Investigators Network is an initiative of the Lupus Research Alliance in New York.

Systemic lupus erythematosus — the full name for the condition — is an autoimmune disease, where the immune system is tricked into attacking healthy tissue and cells, in this case leading to inflammation in the joints, skin, and other organs including heart, lungs, and kidneys. The disorder is more common in women than men, mainly affecting individuals between the ages of 10 and 50.

Lupus Research Alliance says a particular difficulty in treating lupus is that symptoms are highly variable, affecting people in different ways, with any two cases rarely identical. The organization says more than 1.5 million Americans have the disease.

The Lupus Clinical Investigators Network is a collection currently of 58 researchers at academic medical centers in the U.S. and Canada. The network aims to conduct clinical studies of treatment candidates for lupus, as well as provide a mechanism for sharing the results, and make it easier to enlist participants for clinical studies.

Recruiting individuals to take part in clinical trials is a continuing challenge, according to Albert Roy, executive director of Lupus Clinical Investigators Network. “By connecting and engaging the investigator community and lupus patients in a meaningful way,” says Roy in an alliance statement, “we hope to improve clinical trial education, build patient trust, and offer access to new and exciting lupus treatments. We aim to make it easier and more comfortable for patients to get involved and make a real difference.”

The Lupus Clinical Investigators Network was originally created to test drugs for effectiveness against lupus already approved by the Food and Drug Administration for other disorders. In fact, the first drug evaluated by the network is Rayos, marketed by Horizon Pharma for rheumatoid arthritis, another autoimmune disorder, to treat in this case the severe fatigue often encountered by lupus sufferers. The network also plans to partner with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to test new drugs for lupus.

Among other trials planned are an assessment of MRI techniques compared to surgical biopsies to diagnose lupus nephritis, a complication of lupus affecting the kidneys. In addition, a study is also planned of contemplative practices such as meditation to relieve lupus symptoms.

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