Oct. 3, 2007 Researchers in Indiana have developed a vaccine-like treatment that shows promise for treating lupus, a disease of the immune system that affects about 1.5 million people in the United States.
The new treatment reduced disease symptoms and extended the lives of laboratory mice that researchers use to study lupus.
In the study, Philip S. Low and colleagues cite the need for better treatments for lupus, an autoimmune disorder in which the body's immunological defense system attacks healthy cells, damaging muscles, joints, kidneys and other body parts. Current treatments for lupus -- also known as SLE -- include high doses of steroids and other medications with serious side effects.
The new approach targets abnormal immune cells in a way that marks the rogue cells for destruction by the body's immune system without affecting healthy cells. Called folate-hapten-targeted immunotherapy, the treatment greatly reduced damage to the kidneys and other tissues and also prolonged the lives of the mice by 10 months in comparison to untreated animals, the researchers say.
"We suggest that this therapy warrants further evaluation as a possible approach for treatment of SLE in humans," the report states.
This research is described in the September/October issue of ACS' Molecular Pharmaceutics. The title of the article is "Depletion of Folate-Receptor-Positive Macrophages Leads to Alleviation of Symptoms and Prolonged Survival in Two Murine Models of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus."
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