Understanding the Causes of Lupus
Mark Mamula, Ph.D.,Associate Professor of Internal Medicine (Rheumatology)
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus or SLE (often referred to simply as Lupus) is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects tissues and organs throughout the body. Approximately 90 percent of patients with SLE are women, and the disease is most common in women of childbearing age. Dr. Mamula studied how, in lupus, the body targets itself for attack by its own immune system. Identifying the mechanisms that initiate this process is necessary in beginning to devise an intervention that will stop this self-destructive cascade.
Highlighted Study Findings
A major question in understanding SLE is how specific proteins in the body, called autoantigens, become targeted for attack by the immune system. The goal of Dr. Mamula’s work is to identify the specific factors that may trigger this disease. In this study, Dr. Mamula’s research group was able to identify one type of protein that may trigger SLE, thus providing information that begins to uncover the mechanisms important in understanding what starts and maintains diseases of the immune system. A more thorough understanding of the earliest processes in such diseases was an important first step to identify potential targets for treatment of SLE.