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SOURCE: National Institutes of Health, U.S.Department of Health and Human Services: Link to NIH

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Role of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)

NIAMS leads and coordinates the Federal biomedical research effort in lupus by conducting and supporting research projects, research training, clinical trials, and epidemiologic studies and by disseminating information on research results.

NIAMS funds many scientists across the United States who are studying the causes and mechanisms of tissue injury in SLE and why lupus strikes women and certain minority populations more frequently.

In addition, NIAMS has established the first Specialized Centers of Research (SCORs) devoted to lupus. These centers enable basic scientists and clinicians to collaborate closely on lupus research.

To further the study of the genetics of lupus and to provide a resource for all researchers in this field, NIAMS has established a lupus registry and repository.

Researchers who study families in which two or more members have been diagnosed with lupus collect and continually update clinical, demographic, and laboratory data on these individuals and submit the data to the lupus registry.

Blood, cell, and tissue samples and DNA from these individuals will be stored in the lupus repository.

The registry and repository will allow all lupus researchers access to an enormously valuable database of information on lupus patients. For example, researchers will be able to analyze each DNA sample in the repository for the presence of a standard set of genetic markers.

A centralized database will maintain this genetic information along with clinical and laboratory information from the registry.

Together, these data can be used as the starting point for genetic analysis to identify possible lupus genes.

Finding the genes that cause the disease may help researchers develop new treatments.

In addition, this research will help identify which lupus patients will develop the most severe manifestations of the disease.

This will help doctors decide who needs the most aggressive treatment.

The research advances of the past have led to significant improvements in the prognosis for patients with lupus.

As current research efforts unfold, there is continued hope for new treatments, further improvements in patient quality of life, and ultimately, for ways in which to prevent or cure the disease.

Source: National Institutes of Health, U.S.Dept of Health and Human Services

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