When there is an excessive number or hyperactivation of immune cells, very high levels of proteins known as cytokines are released, resulting in a cytokine storm that causes severe and often irreversible tissue damage. This accounts for the crippling nature of many autoimmune disorders such as lupus.
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Two variants of an autoimmune disease that affects thousands but is hard to diagnose are relatively common among black Africans, research shows.
The findings, relating to systemic lupus erythematosus, or SLE, could improve diagnosis and treatment of the condition.
They could enable better management of the disease in patients of African descent, particularly in southern Africa, where incidence and mortality rates are relatively high.
David D’Cruz MD FRCP. Professor and Consultant Rheumatologist, Louise Coote Lupus Unit, Guys Hospital, London.
Jo Spencer has had a career-long interest in human immunology, in particular the structure and function of the gut-associated lymphoid tissue and the origin of human intestinal IgA plasma cells...
Dr Tull is a dermatologist with a specialist interest in cutaneous manifestations of lupus. He is currently undertaking a PhD that investigates how B cells mature in healthy individuals, and how this is defective in SLE.
Dr Sangle graduated from Shivaji University in India in 1975 and after wide ranging experience in India and Oman he has been working in the Lupus Unit first as senior clinical fellow and now as a speciality doctor.
Louise Nel is originally from South Africa. She is a highly experienced lupus nurse who works in the lupus clinical trials unit recruiting patients into trials of new therapies in SLE.
Amaka studied a degree in Pharmaceutical Science at Kingston University and graduated in 2004.
The Louise Coote Lupus Unit is part of the Eurolupus consortium which has been engaged in large scale long term studies of lupus across Europe.
Rituximab has been used in the in the treatment of severe lupus for many years. It works by depleting the antibody producing B cells in lupus patients...
Belimumab is an antibody treatment that reduces the number of the antibody producing B cells in the immune system which produce the characteristic lupus antibodies. The Lupus Clinical trials unit entered 10 patients into this international study – the largest number recruited in the UK...
One interesting trial was aimed at trying to help patients with lupus on steroids to lose weight. The study showed that this was possible and that reducing carbohydrate intake might be a useful way to avoid the weight gain associated with steroid use...
The Lupus Trust has funded a study that has identified a major new feature of the human immune system that appears to be poorly engaged in lupus. Restoring this process in patients with lupus may be a novel way to restore health.
This is a UK based group of lupus experts led by Prof David Isenberg that has been studying how disease activity can be accurately measured in clinical practice and also in clinical trials.
The Louise Coote Lupus Clinic has been part of this international study group for many years.This group has led the way in setting up large scale international collaborative studies that have been very influential in understanding the clinical features of lupus.