French scientists have discovered that lupus patients have excess blood cells called platelets – small cell fragments that circulate in the blood, clumping together to form clots. These excess and overly-active platelets trigger production of inflammation-promoting proteins called interferons. Tests on mice given anti-platelet medication showed reduced lupus symptoms and increased life expectancy. The results suggest that anticoagulant drugs like clopidogrel (Plavix) could prevent lupus flare ups in people, and the scientists hope to start clinical trials on humans soon.

Lupus is a chronic, incurable auto-immune disease where the body’s immune system turns on itself, attacking its own tissue. The resulting inflammation causes pain and damages organs, particularly the kidneys. The most common symptoms include rashes, fever, hair loss, fatigue, aches and pains, and inflammation of the arteries and veins, tendons, brain, kidney and the membrane surrounding the lungs. Serious cases can be life threatening, with patients suffering kidney failure and out of control infections.

About one-and-a-half million Americans have lupus, which can be diagnosed with blood tests. It effects nine times more women than men, and usually strikes between the ages of 15 and 50. Its cause has not yet known, although researchers have identified genetic, hormonal and environmental factors. Some lupus patients have only mild and/or transitory flare ups which may go undiagnosed, while others are debilitated by a more aggressive form of the disease. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and antimalarial medications are used to treat milder cases, while more serious attacks are treated with immune system suppressing medications and corticosteroids. There has not been a new medication for the treatment of lupus in 50 years. Current treatments are not 100 percent effective, and can have side effects.

The anti-clotting medication Plavix is the second highest-selling drug in the world (behind the cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor). It makes platelets less “sticky” and likely to clump together to form clots, which can lodge in the heart, lungs or brain and cause a heart attack or stroke. Anti-clotting drugs, also called blood thinners, are widely prescribed as a preventative measure for persons who have experienced a heart attack or stroke, or who suffer from heart disease or poor blood circulation due to hardened and narrowed arteries (atherosclerosis).

Being able to treat lupus patients with blood thinner pills could dramatically improve their quality of life, according to the researchers. Plavix can be expensive in the US, where it’s patented until 2012, but cheaper generic Plavix is available in Europe and from Canada.

4 thoughts on “Lupus New Treatment Drug

  1. yp_plum_new_york

    Just a rant b/c I have no one to talk to?
    I am about to turn 33 and I believe I have a perfectly valid reason for depression, so I am not looking to be talked out of it. First, the good stuff: I am finishing a PhD; have a very good, secure job in my dream field; have a beautiful apartment; and am reasonably attractive (people keep asking me if I am a model, but I think it is because I look interesting rather than because I am gorgeous and that’s fine). Now the bad stuff: my kidneys failed when I was 25 because I have lupus so I started dialysis for 5 years while I worked and began my PhD program. I had very little help; I basically did these years alone. I got a transplant when I was 30 and 8 months after the transplant, I was diagnosed with lymphoma because of the immuno-suppressant drugs I was taking for the transplant. I did chemo for 6 rounds, then while recovering I found this new job in another city. I wanted to be away from all the sickness in the old city, so I moved. It has been good but stressful. A lot of long hours and travel. I found out a few months ago that my transplant is not doing great so I signed up for a transplant list again. After doing all the tests, my oncologist says that I would have to wait 3 years before I can get a new kidney…so my name will stay on the list, but I can’t get an offer until 2011. I haven’t dating anyone since I was 29 and am starting t feel very self-conscious around my friends and family with their husbands and children. Because of the chemo, I can’t have kids (I don’t even have my period anymore, so I feel less feminine). I am starting to have a hard time hanging out with these couples with their kids because I feel worse after a day with them than I do just sitting in the house alone. I have gone back and forth with wanting to kill myself, but in the end it is pretty lame though I don’t rule it out. My stomach has been bothering me again lately and if it is cancer, I have decided not to treat it. I am going to check if refusal to treat counts as suicide. I want my mom to get my insurance and pension and 401k. If it doesn’t, then I will take the minimum treatment. That’s it. After a long weekend on the couch; I didn’t want to bother any friends because they have their families to take care of. And I don’t want to stress my mother out. Thanks for “listening.”

    1. Atlas

      You’re right that you have many valid reasons for depression, but you also have so many reasons to be proud. One of my best friends died of Lupus at 17, so I know how difficult it can be, and yet you’ve survived it and thrived in your field and pursued a PhD. I have Hodgkin’s so I do know what it’s like to battle that disease, and I’m very scared about fertility too. (I’m 17.5 now). There are things you have no control over, and to an extent, there’s freedom in that because you cannot berate yourself for failing to reach a mark. Keep on persevering, and seek help for your depression. I’ve been battling wicked mood swings and depression since starting chemo over the summer, and it’s been really beneficial to go to therapy.

      33 is still very young. You have plenty of years ahead of you to marry and adopt, and you are not in a race with anybody else.

      I absolutely LOVE the site I’m Too Young for This, and have linked it below. It’s a support group for young adults with cancer, and they’re amazing.

      I bet more people admire you than you realize. Keep fighting.
      I admire all that you’ve accomplished.

  2. tmang0502

    pls react on this journal… your reaction would be a great help…thanks God Bless?
    ‘Multi-target’ Immune Therapy Improves Outcomes Of Severe Lupus Nephritis
    ScienceDaily (July 7, 2008) — A new treatment using a combination of drugs targeting different parts of the immune system improves the recovery rate for patients with severe lupus involving the kidneys, according to a new report.
    “In our study, multi-target therapy is shown to be superior to traditional therapy for inducing complete remission of class V+IV lupus nephritis, with few side effects,” comments Dr. Lei-Shi Li of the Research Institute of Nephrology of Jinling Hospital, Nanjing University School of Medicine in Nanjing,China.
    The study included 40 patients with severe lupus nephritis. Lupus nephritis is inflammation of the kidneys occurring in patients with the immune system disease systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). All patients had “class V+IV” disease, meaning widespread inflammation and decreasing function of the kidneys. “This is a severe form of lupus nephritis that is traditionally treated with a single immunosuppressant drug, but the efficacy is very poor,” says Dr. Li. “We considered that, since the impact of severe SLE on the kidney involves various parts of the immune system, it is necessary to treat the different immune targets with a combination of immunosuppressant drugs.”
    One group of patients received this “multi-target” therapy, consisting of the immunosuppressant drugs tacrolimus and mycophenolate mofetil–commonly used as anti-rejection drugs in transplant patients–plus a steroid. The other group received standard treatment with a single immunosuppressant drug (cyclophosphamide).
    The complete remission rate, with recovery of normal kidney function, was about four times higher among patients receiving the three-drug combination. “For patients receiving multi-target therapy, the complete remission rate reached 65 percent at nine months, versus only 15 percent under traditional therapy,” says Dr. Li.
    Some patients in both groups had partial remission, with some return of kidney function. Overall, 95 percent of patients in the multi-target therapy group had partial or complete remission, compared to 55 percent with single-drug therapy. The rate of most adverse effects was also lower with multi-target therapy.
    Systemic lupus erythematosus is an autoimmune disorder, in which the immune system attacks healthy organs and tissues. By reducing immune system activity, treatment with immunosuppressant drugs has improved most outcomes for patients with SLE. However, class V+IV lupus nephritis continues to be a major problem–it has a poor response to traditional treatments and can lead to permanent kidney damage. “The prognosis is very poor, so it is important for us to develop a new regimen for the treatment of this type of lupus nephritis,” says Dr. Li.
    Using a combination of drugs that affect different immune targets, multi-target therapy improves the chances of remission for patients with severe lupus nephritis. “The therapeutic effect of our multi-target therapy is apparently superior to traditional therapy for inducing complete remission of Class V+IV lupus nephritis, and also bears good tolerance under relatively lower dosages,” Dr. Li adds.
    The authors stress that their study is only preliminary. The study includes a small group of patients from a single hospital, with a relatively short follow-up time. Larger randomized trials with longer follow-up are required.

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