Emory’s Team Receives $ 3 Million to Investigate Lupus in African Americans | Emory University



The Lupus Research Alliance has awarded one of its largest grants to date to a multidisciplinary team led by Ignacio Sanz, MD, chief of rheumatology at Emory University School of Medicine.

Sanz is director of the Lowance Center for Human Immunology and a distinguished investigator of the Georgia Research Alliance. The grant includes collaborators from the Medical University of South Carolina and the University of Alabama Birmingham School of Medicine.

The Alliance’s three-year, $ 3 million Global Team Science Award, presented for the first time this year, was made possible through a grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies. A similar award went to a team led by Virginia Pascual, MD at Weill Cornell Medicine, which will focus on genetic risk factors for lupus in children. Both were selected by competition.

Lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus) is a chronic and complex autoimmune disease that affects millions of people around the world. In lupus, the immune system, which is designed to protect against infection, creates antibodies that can attack any part of the body, including the kidneys, brain, heart, lungs, blood, skin and joints.

Sanz’s project will focus on identifying the characteristics of B cells and plasma cells that create attacking antibodies in the development and progression of severe lupus, particularly in African American patients. People of color are two to three times more likely to develop lupus than whites. Over 90 percent of people with lupus are women.

“Each patient may respond differently to treatment and have a wide range of symptom severity, usually due to B cells and plasma cells: the cells that cause lupus to start,” says Sanz. “This research will allow us to better understand the impact of this diversity on the experience of each patient, allowing us to respond, design and evaluate clinical studies and standard treatments with the aim of implementing personalized treatments. safer and more efficient. “

The Lupus Research Alliance previously gave Sanz the Lupus Insight Prize 2019 for associated discoveries. For the current project, Sanz’s team at Emory includes Frances Eun-Hyung Lee, MD, Sung Sam Lim, MD, Arezou Khosroshahi MD, Jeremy Boss, PhD, and Christopher Scharer, PhD. Contributors include Gary Gilkeson, MD and Bethany Brown, MD at the Medical University of South Carolina, and Frances Lund, PhD, Alex Rosenberg, PhD, Winn Chatham, MD and Troy Randall, PhD at the University of Alabama Birmingham School of Medicine.



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