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Scientists Find New Way to Track Lupus Progression

RM Lupus

2016 was a tough year, especially for celebrities. Many of us saw our childhood favorites pass and many of today’s modern stars fall ill. While there is no shortage of ailments, nor celebrities who have them, one stands out among the rest as making headlines across the nation and around the world – and that is lupus.

From Selena Gomez to Nick Cannon, many of our favorite stars found themselves hospitalized as a result of this terrible disease, however, many still don’t know exactly what it is.

Lupus is what is known as a chronic autoimmune disease. What the means is that the body’s immune system mistakes its own healthy tissues and organs as foreign invaders and attacks them. The result is inflammation, swelling, and damage to the skin, joints, kidneys, blood, heart and lungs – yikes.

Thankfully, some new findings are coming out of Ann Arbor Michigan that have scientists investigating the use of kidney biomarkers to aid in tracking the progression of lupus.

In this study, the team measured the urinary epidermal growth factor of patients who suffer from the chronic autoimmune disease. The results – the team found that there was a decrease in urinary epidermal growth factor protein with diminishing kidney capacity in people with chronic kidney disease.

“Lupus patients have a high risk of kidney involvement, which can lead to end-stage renal disease requiring dialysis or transplant,” Emily Somers, Ph.D. Sc.M, an associate professor of internal medicine (rheumatology), environmental health sciences and obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Michigan and a member of the Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, said in a press release. “In addition, there is a great need for biomarkers to detect early kidney involvement and to monitor progression.”

Dr. Somers is the head of the Michigan Lupus Epidemiology and Surveillance (MILES) Program, which consists of a registry of more than 650 lupus patients from southeast Michigan.

“Lupus is a disease that predominantly affects women, often striking at the prime of life,” Somers said. “Through the MILES Program, we previously showed that for black women, who are disproportionately affected by lupus, their risk of lupus is highest in their 20s. Forty percent of black females with lupus have kidney involvement, and 15 percent have end-stage renal disease.”

Somers went on to say that “Validating this biomarker as a way to monitor lupus severity and progression is an exciting step in piecing together the complexity of lupus,” Somer said. “Ultimately we aim to enhance our ability to identify and treat those affected sooner before the disease has caused even more complications.”

While the notion of prevention being equally, if not more important than the cure is not a new idea, with the growing number of health concerns that face us today, a little bit of effort now might help lead to a fuller life down the road.