Lupus can occur in many different parts of the body and may be mild or life-threatening. Also known as systemic lupus erythematosus, it reprograms a patient’s immune cells so that they attack the body itself, resulting in chronic inflammation. The disease can affect the kidneys, joints, skin, brain, and the lining of the heart and lungs.
The exact cause of lupus is unknown, although it’s likely a combination of genes, hormones and environmental factors. Because the symptoms of lupus are varied and unpredictable, diagnosis can be difficult and take time. While a combination of prescribed medications and lifestyle changes can help patients manage symptoms, lupus can cause cardiovascular disease, kidney disease and stroke.
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Lupus research at Garvan
Researchers at Garvan are working to identify and isolate the immune cells responsible for making the autoantibodies that cause inflammation, pain and damage to organs in the body. Understanding how these cells are different from normal immune cells will help us target the harmful cells, while preserving the rest of the immune system.
It's likely that certain genetic variations cause some people to be more susceptible to lupus. Identifying these variations may point to more targeted treatment options. We are using cutting-edge cellular genomics technology to help accelerate the development of such treatments, to improve patient healthcare.