ALR announces medical research grant awards to cure lupus

The Alliance for Lupus Research (ALR) – the world's largest private funder of lupus research – today announced its most recent medical research grant awards, totaling $3.6 million, which support the ALR mission of finding better treatments and ultimately preventing and curing systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE, or lupus), a debilitating autoimmune disease.  The organization awarded $5.6 million in lupus research in 2010 and, since 1999, has dedicated over $65 million to understanding the disease.

"The Alliance for Lupus Research places the highest priority on identifying those research projects that have a high likelihood of improving the health of lupus patients. We ask the investigators who apply for ALR research grants to clearly define how their research will result in new therapies or improved approaches to medical management in the shortest timeframe possible," said Mary K. Crow, MD, Chair, ALR Scientific Advisory Board and Professor and Senior Scientist at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York and Professor of Medicine and Immunology at Weill Medical College of Cornell University. "Over the last decade our research programs have been fundamental to many discoveries in lupus and have helped countless medical professionals develop a greater understanding of the disease which will ultimately lead to better patient care."

Under the organization's Target Identification in Lupus (TIL) grant program, and once passed through the organization's rigorous, multi-level peer review, investigators leverage a two-year award to remove the barriers to new treatments and a possible cure.  All lupus research funded under the TIL program is focused on studies that can move quickly from the laboratory to the patient's bedside.

Including in this round of awards are innovative studies to: evaluate the role that DNA plays in activating certain proteins which are thought to aggravate lupus; understand how interferon utilizes certain proteins to promote blood vessel and kidney damage; assess lupus susceptibility due to rare genetic variants; determine the interaction that takes place between T- and B-cells which may encourage inflammation; characterize genetic alterations in certain immune cells (neutrophils) and their contribution to the disease; assess disease progression and the relationship to certain alterations in dendritic cells; investigate the effect of activating proteins that reduce the release of interferon and, therefore, the symptoms and severity of lupus; analyze and understand specific gene activity during the three stages of lupus nephritis; characterization of the remission-inducing suppressor cells; and, to understand how the IRF5 (interferon regulatory factor 5) gene may be altered or inhibited to modify the course of the disease.

The Alliance for Lupus Research TIL Grants Funded in 2011 include:

"Cardiovascular complications constitute an important cause of morbidity and mortality in lupus," said Mariana Kaplan, associate professor, Internal Medicine, University of Michigan School of Medicine. "Results of this proposal will improve our understanding of the mechanisms involved in the development of premature atherosclerosis and cardiovascular complications in patients with SLE. This could lead to the development of targeted therapeutic strategies aimed at preventing this devastating condition."

SOURCE Alliance for Lupus Research

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