Nov. 14, 2017

World Premier Rheumatology Meeting Inspires Hope

By Lauren Metelski and Lyna Merzoug

The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) Annual Scientific Meeting was an incredible event - one with exciting developments from multiple research studies focused on improvements in quality of life and management of lupus. 

Our Medical Director, Dr. Sue Manzi noted one of the key takeaways from this year’s ACR meeting was the abundance of research studies on biomarkers, which are a crucial part of improving personalized treatment plans for people with lupus. These studies will help doctors prescribe targeted medication based on biomarkers that appear in a patient’s blood test.

Dr. Manzi also pointed to the significance of a study that showed no increased risk of blindness from the use of hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil; HCQ). The results of this HCQ study are reassuring for the many people with lupus currently taking the drug. However, Dr. Dilpreet Singh, the author of the study, and Dr. Manzi both emphasized that yearly eye exams are still necessary and highly recommended for people with lupus.

These exciting research updates and many more findings presented at the ACR meeting give hope for a future where there are better treatments and tailored medicines with reduced side effects for people with lupus. For example, Dr. Ron van Vollenhoven, Co-Editor of the Lupus Foundation of America’s Lupus Science & Medicine journal, presented findings of a Phase 2b clinical trial on 120 patients with lupus with a medication called Ustekinumab (Stelara™). This medication is already used in patients with psoriasis and Crohn’s disease. The findings from this clinical trial tell us that the drug can help people with lupus that are already on routine medication to monitor their disease and better control their symptoms.  

More than 35 Lupus Foundation of America funded researchers presented findings from their lupus studies at this year’s ACR meeting. Dr. Sara Tedeschi, recipient of the Foundation’s 2016 Career Development Award presented her findings on bone fracture risk among people with lupus. She found that lupus patients have a higher risk for having a bone fracture compared to those who do not have lupus. It’s important for people with lupus to discuss their bone health with their rheumatologist and the need to take preventive measures such as increasing calcium and vitamin D intake, and getting a bone density test.

We know that research is the key to solving the cruel mystery of lupus and ending its brutal impact. With continued progress being made in the lupus research community, there is hope on the horizon for those affected by this devastating disease!

For more highlights from the ACR meeting, including a study that reveals shockingly high rates of incorrect lupus diagnosis, please visit our #ACR17 Facebook Event.