Highlights of Lupus News at the American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting

Here are highlights of the November 9-14 annual scientific meeting of the American College of Rheumatology meeting in Washington, D.C.. The meeting is considered “the must-attend event” for healthcare professionals in the lupus and rheumatology communities.

Lupus Research Findings

  • Biopharmaceutical company Immunomedics, Inc. announced that lupus patients receiving the investigational drug epratuzumab reported clinically meaningful improvements in health-related quality of life that were sustained over approximately 4 years of treatment. This is the second presentation at the meeting that demonstrated clinical benefits of epratuzumab treatment as reported by patients in the ALLEVIATE extension study.
  • Genetic changes that protected their ancestors against parasites carried by flies may partly explain why African-Americans with lupus are far more likely to develop end-stage kidney disease than those of European descent. This was the conclusion of a study presented by researchers from University of Alabama at Birmingham.
  • High levels of an experimental biomarker (BLyS -- B-lymphocyte stimulator) predicted flares among patients with systemic lupus erythematosus, according to an analysis presented at ACR by Michelle Petri, MD of Johns Hopkins University. Over one year, 26% of patients with the lowest levels of the biomarker had a moderate-to-severe disease flare, compared with 45% of those who had the highest levels.
  • A new study presented by researchers at Hospital for Special Surgery challenges common beliefs about joint replacement in patients with lupus. Investigators showed that lupus patients undergoing joint replacement surgery experienced fewer side effects than previously thought.
  • High rates of systemic lupus erythematosus have been linked to exposure to uranium, according to new research presented by researchers at the University of Cincinnati and Cincinnati Children's Medical Center. The goal of the study was to explain why a higher than normal number of lupus cases were reported in a Ohio community five miles from a former uranium plant. Lead investigator Pai-Yu Lu, MD at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center explained that the basis for the study was knowing that “lupus patients may be sensitive to sunlight and irradiation, in addition to literature hinting that miners may be at increased risk for developing lupus.”
  • Idera Pharmaceuticals, Inc. announced they will be starting a Phase 1 trial of an investigational drug for lupus, IMO-8400. IMO-8400 is an antagonist of Toll-like receptors (TLRs) 7, 8 and 9.

Lupus Research Institute News

  • The Lupus Initiative, the signature advocacy program conceived of by the LRI in collaboration with the Office of Minority Health, Office of Women’s Health and the Surgeon General is exhibiting at ACR in booth 1043. Intended to educate healthcare professionals to recognize, diagnose and treat lupus appropriately, the Lupus Initiative program is being executed by the ACR.
  • The LRI congratulates our new Scientific Advisory Board member, David Wofsy, MD for being named Master of the American College of Rheumatology. Past President of the American College of Rheumatology, Dr. Wofsy is a leader in both basic and clinical lupus research. He has developed and tested several novel strategies for the treatment of lupus. His current research is devoted to clinical trials of biologic therapies for people with lupus. The LRI is very fortunate to be able to benefit from Dr. Wofsy’s expertise and counsel.
  • LRI National Coalition advocate Kathleen Arntsen was awarded the first-ever Ann Kunkel Advocacy Award at November’s ACR meeting in Boston. The award is designed to recognize a member of the Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals (ARHP) who has been particularly effective in advocating for rheumatologic conditions such as lupus.