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Approved research

Identifying and validating genetic biomarkers for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and relevant autoimmune conditions

Principal Investigator: Dr Xuewei Wang
Approved Research ID: 61388
Approval date: June 16th 2020

Lay summary

(1) Aim Patients suffering with SLE are currently treated with various medications that help control symptoms and minimize flares. While these medications help improve the quality of life for patients, many patients still experience flares over time and eventually suffer from organ damages. The challenge the community faces is that current medication cannot effectively alter the course of the disease, and there is no understanding of the root cause of lupus. We aim to identify genetic markers of lupus that are reflected in the UK Biobank data resource and integrate with our own findings for drug development. (2)Scientific Rationale Previous work from our institute identified genes that are altered in expression in SLE patients compared to normal controls. Our pre-clinical studies also provided some insights of potential marker genes. The UK Biobank has data related to these findings in people who suffer from SLE and relevant conditions. We like to investigate the UK Biobank data to identify potential genetic factors associating with these genes and phenotypes and validate our hypotheses. (3)Project Duration The proposed research will take roughly three years to complete. (4)Public Health Impact Our long-term goal is to develop new SLE therapies based on these proposed studies. Both physicians and patients are frustrated by the lack of fundamentally new therapies in last sixty years. There are various medications used to treat SLE patients in current practice. The heterogeneity among patients and their clinical manifestations has severely hinder the effective treatments with existing medications. We hope the studies can help to better understand the pathogenesis and identify potential markers to stratify patients. We aim to achieve the ambitious goal of creating new medications that will allow patients to live normal lives.