Australian Researchers Find Potential for Individualized Lupus Treatments

Clinicians may one day be able to offer more effective, personalized treatment to patients diagnosed with lupus thanks to a potential breakthrough in DNA sequencing.

Clinicians may one day be able to offer more effective, personalized treatment to patients diagnosed with lupus thanks to a potential breakthrough in DNA sequencing.

Researchers at the Centre for Personalised Immunology at the John Curtin School of Medical Research in Australia claim to have found a gene variant in a young patient which they believe is directly tied to her lupus. The team’s work shows that sequencing may help to identify the individual causes of the disease, which can allow for better treatment.

“We can now target her specific disease, and make treatments that will benefit her throughout her life,” lead researcher Julia Ellyard, MD, said.

In this case the team was working with a girl who had suffered a stroke at the age of 4 which was caused by her condition. A statement from Australian National University said one in 700 people in Australia has lupus, with many of the patients being young and middle-aged women.

Tests revealed that the patient carried a variant of the TREX1 gene, which “caused the patient’s cells to produce a molecule called interferon-alpha,” the statement noted.

The girl is now 10 years old and takes steroids and immune suppressive drugs on a daily basis, but one a co-investigator said the new information could help her and others like her.

“New targeted therapy would be a major benefit in controlling her disease,” said Jeff Chaitow, MD, the head of rheumatology at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead in Sydney. “Lupus is a heterogeneous disease and patients can experience a number of different symptoms. We believe that there are different genetic causes of lupus. Understanding these defective genes and pathways in each individual will help tailor treatments.”