A team of international researchers, some of whom are based in Montreal, has identified the genes involved in Lupus, a chronic disease of the autoimmune system that can be terribly devastating. The discovery of these genes could very well open the door to the development of new treatments and screening tests that could help speed up the diagnosis of this mystifying disease.
Lupus is a complex autoimmune disease that causes various symptoms such as skin rashes, joint pains and fatigue. However, it can also lead to more serious problems such as inflammation of the kidneys and other internal organs. Women are afflicted by this disease nine times more often than men are. Close to 50,000 Canadians are affected by this serious health condition.
Complications arise when an individual’s immune system launches attacks against its own healthy cells and tissue. However, because the symptoms vary greatly from one person to another, Lupus is often confused with other diseases such as arthritis or various kidney, heart, pulmonary and skin conditions. Therefore, physicians are more susceptible of not being able to identify the disease when the first symptoms appear. The treatments currently offered only serve to suppress the immune system in order to stop it from destroying the body’s healthy cells. Hence, the treatments decrease the symptoms but are incapable of curing the disease.
Discovering these genes is definitely a step forward in unravelling the mystery surrounding Lupus. Let us hope research and medical advances will soon enable better screening techniques and treatments for this devastating disease.