Thursday, 11 December 2014

Lupus research at Monash to benefit from $750,000 grant

Professor Eric Morand
Improved outcomes for patients with lupus are expected as a result of research funding worth nearly $.75 million, secured by researchers in the School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health (SCS).

Pharmaceutical companies UCB Biopharma SPRL and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), who are among the leading companies worldwide developing therapies for lupus, are to fund research led by Professor Eric Morand, Head of SCS and Head of Rheumatology at Monash Health, to develop and validate treatment targets in lupus.

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE, or lupus) is a serious multisystem autoimmune disease,” said Professor Morand. “Patients with lupus, usually young women, suffer a loss of life expectancy and in some cases severe illness, caused by the immune system damaging multiple organs.”

“The most severe symptoms of lupus involve the kidneys, heart, and central nervous system.”
While the management of many diseases has been improved by the adoption of treat-to-target approaches, there is currently no evidence-based definition of a treatment target for lupus. This has resulted in inconsistent use of medicines and uncertainty about the role of novel therapies.

“Thanks to the support of UCB and GSK, this research will validate for the first time a treatment target in lupus,” said Professor Morand. 

In a study by the Asia Pacific Lupus Collaboration (APLC), led by Monash, the investigators have devised a new way to simply measure responses to treatment in lupus. The new funding will support the APLC validation of this method.

“When validated, we expect our treatment target will be used in clinical trials and in clinical practice to drive better outcomes for patients,” added Professor Morand.

Head of the Monash Lupus Clinic, Dr Alberta Hoi said, “funding of this project will enable us to drive optimal use of therapies and create evidence-based clinical guidelines in lupus for the first time”.

“This study has the potential to have ground-breaking impact in clinical research and clinical care in lupus.”

Founded in 2006, the Monash Lupus Clinic at Monash Health is the largest lupus-specific clinic in Australia, providing care by a multidisciplinary team of specialists, and lupus research at Monash covers the range from laboratory discovery to clinical trials.

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