As people who are affected by lupus know, it is one of the most puzzling and complex autoimmune diseases, according to Benaroya Research Institute scientists and Virginia Mason clinical researchers. Diagnosis is difficult because it can affect all the systems of the body. Current treatments haven’t effectively treated the many symptoms of lupus and they have significant side effects.
“The manifestations of the disease are so varied, there are no two people alike,” says Jeffrey Carlin, MD, head of BRI clinical research for lupus and member of the Virginia Mason rheumatology section. “But good things are on the horizon for people with lupus. Scientists are discovering much more about the disease and how it works. New drugs, currently in development, will target the immune system more specifically, making them more effective, with fewer side effects.”
BRI’s approach to research takes all the complex elements of autoimmune diseases into consideration. “We not only go broadly, but we go deeply,” says BRI President Jane Buckner, MD. “We study genetics, we develop in-depth knowledge of the immune response, we discover how the immune system operates in people with lupus compared to those without disease and we translate our knowledge to clinical trials. Our patients provide feedback that goes back to the laboratory and that improves the treatments. That’s how we do science — in a deep, extensive continuous improvement loop.”
Dr. Buckner is a rheumatologist who sees people with lupus at Virginia Mason every week. “It’s a very difficult disease, and we’re dedicated to improving the care of our patients and ultimately curing lupus,” she emphasizes. “The answer will be in finding diverse ways to rebalance a person’s immune system so it doesn’t cause lupus.”
December 28, 2017
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