A team from Genentech Inc. discovered two new genes linked to lupus which affects an estimated 1.5 million Americans. The discovery of BLK and ITGAM was reported by Genentech scientist Timothy W. Behrens in the New Journal of Medicine. Dr Behrens believes the presence of these genes trigger an immune response that attacks patient's own body. The disease often results in death related the multiple organ failure often caused by cardiovascular illness. Lupus often goes undiagnosed and untreated for years because it is difficult to identify. It is most common in women and minorities.
In a separate study, the International Consortium for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Genetics (SLEGEN) coordinated the planning and organization of a large genotyping and data analysis effort that involved contributions from large group of organizations across the globe. The results also showed evidence linking lupus to nine genes. The results should aid in characterizing the genetic profile of Lupus and should point to new avenues for earlier and more accurate diagnosis as well as identifying paths for new areas of drug discovery.
The Healing Project actively encourages all its members to contribute and participate in clinical studies. Finally, SLEGEN model of consortium based research demonstrates the value of leading scientists collaborating to find answers to difficult questions. Every chronic disease should consider this model as it will eliminate duplicative and costly research while more rapidly providing answers necessary to better diagnosis complex illnesses and initiate drug discovery efforts.