Lupus is difficult to diagnose and to treat, but researchers are working hard on how to better understand the illness in order to develop better treatments. Lupus is an autoimmune disease that affects between 300,000 and 1.5 million Americans. Dr. Sarah Yim, rheumatologist, said in a news release, “With treatment, the disease may quiet down, but it also may relapse eventually. Although it may be controlled with medications, once you get it, you will always have it.”
Yim added, “Technologies have been developed in recent years that can make our medicines more targeted, to address the specific molecule or molecules in the immune system that may be causing the problem.”
Lupus typically occurs between the ages of 15 and 44, and has 10 times greater prevalence in women than men. Like many autoimmune diseases, the exact cause of lupus is unknown and the disease can affect all the body’s organs and parts, including the joints, heart, lungs, blood vessels, and brain.
Current treatment methods include aspirin, corticosteroids, anti-malarial drugs, and Benlysta, which is the only targeted treatment for lupus.
Yim explained, “Older medicines tend to suppress the whole immune system, which works, but it’s a little bit like shooting a fly with a cannonball, and can be associated with many undesirable side effects.”
Although advancements in treatment have allowed lupus patients to extend their lives, there is still much more work that needs to be done to develop treatments specifically targeted to the disease.
Also, read Bel Marra Health’s article on National Lupus Awareness Month: Lyme disease, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, and Sjögren’s syndrome.