Oct. 06, 2017

Learn How Our Research on Lupus Kidney Disease Helps Patients Now!

The news that singer Selena Gomez recently received a kidney transplant due to lupus has brought much needed attention to the disease. Gomez confirmed two years ago that she was battling lupus, which can affect any organ in the body. In her case, the kidneys have been affected.

Lupus nephritis (LN), the term used when lupus affects the kidneys, is one of the most serious and potentially life-threatening complications of lupus. Up to 60 percent of people with lupus and up to 80 percent of children with the disease will have kidney involvement.


prevalence of kidney complications in lupus


We Fund Game-Changing Research on Lupus Kidney Disease

The Lupus Foundation of America has placed a high priority on supporting research to address lupus nephritis. According to Dr. Brad Rovin, Director of the Division of Nephrology in the Department of Medicine at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, lupus nephritis is more prevalent and often more severe in African Americans and Hispanics than in Caucasians.

“Studies have shown that minority women that develop lupus at a younger age tend to have more serious complications,” Dr. Rovin reported.

As part of the Foundation’s lupus nephritis research focus, special attention is given to lupus nephritis in children and teens. Dr. Rovin, who serves on the Foundation’s Medical-Scientific Advisory Council, says this emphasis is helping to address an urgent issue for people living with lupus. “Lupus nephritis may be more frequent in children with lupus. The severity of the nephritis in children may be higher than in adult patients and therefore needs to be managed and brought under control quickly to avoid going on to chronic kidney disease or end-stage renal failure.”

The Lupus Foundation of America, through its Michael Jon Barlin Pediatric Lupus Research Program, has funded important studies to develop better ways to treat and manage lupus in children and teens. Dr. Emily von Scheven, director of the University of California, San Francisco pediatric rheumatology program, has received Foundation funding for a large study that involved pediatric lupus patients treated at several medical centers around the country.

Dr. von Scheven and her collaborators have developed a new approach for treating young patients with lupus nephritis. “It involves taking advantage of the data from all patients who are treated for lupus nephritis to compare patients with different treatments. This approach enables physicians to learn what is the best treatment in children and not only what drugs work best but also which have the least side effects.”

Foundation-Funded Home Kidney Test Could Help Save Lives

Dr. Kathleen Sullivan, the division chief of allergy and immunology at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, has received Foundation funding for a five-year study to facilitate the development of non-invasive diagnostic tools for pediatric lupus nephritis. Sullivan is working to develop a simple test that children and teens can use at home to monitor their lupus disease activity.

Dr. Brad Rovin indicates this test could be a valuable tool to help manage this potentially fatal complication of lupus.

“Once a person has lupus, it is very important to monitor for the development of kidney involvement. Data suggest that identifying nephritis early and treating it quickly increases the likelihood of response and decreases the likelihood of renal failure. Home monitoring on a regular basis could show changes in urine protein and suggest earlier that a lupus nephritis flare is beginning.”

Foundation-funded research in lupus nephritis also has led to identifying relationships of gene expression in nephritis and understanding the risk factors that could determine how quickly a person with lupus might develop kidney failure.

All of this important research data can help improve care for people with lupus and ultimately prevent kidney failure. Stopping lupus from damaging the kidneys means people like Selena Gomez and others might be able to avoid the difficult and potentially life-changing challenges of undergoing dialysis or kidney transplantation.

Learn more about the Foundation’s research efforts at lupus.org/research and then join the fight to bring an end to lupus now by making a contribution to the Lupus Foundation of America’s research efforts.

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