23andMe is a company that has the ability to gather a large amount of genetic data. There have been several times when 23andMe used that information to help people who have a specific genetically heritable disease, or a disease that does not yet have a cure. As such, 23andMe has launched a Lupus Research Community.
In order to do this, 23andMe teamed up with Pfizer, Inc., (a pharmaceutical corporation) and the Lupus Research Institute (LRI). The Lupus Research Institute is the only nonprofit organization in the United States that is solely dedicated to novel research in lupus. They believe that innovative research is the key to finding safer and more effective treatments and a cure for lupus.
The first goal of the collaborative study is to enroll 5,000 people who have lupus. The disease affects about 1.5 million people in the United States. The start of the enrollment began in May of 2015. This is fitting because May is Lupus Awareness Month.
The research is going to be led by 23andMe. It will focus on genetic factors and will also incorporate data from participants’ medical records and look at how the disease progresses over time. Overall, the hope is that this research will uncover some of the genetic causes for lupus. They are hoping to find the genetics that indicate the onset of the disease, how it progresses, and that explain how patients respond differently to different treatments.
23andMe is also going to try and recruit new participants into the lupus study. They will do this by contacting existing customers who once were determined to be eligible for the study. Everyone will be required to provide consent in order to participate. They expect that they will be done recruiting eligible study participants by the middle of 2016.
Pfizer has stated that they are committed to finding new treatments for patients who have lupus. Their hope is the by enhancing their understanding of the underlying biology of the disease, they will be better able to support clinical research activities and development programs.
The Lupus Research Institute points out that lupus is a shortened name for systemic lupus erythematosus. It is a chronic and often disabling autoimmune disease. It affects more than 1.5 million Americans.
Most of the people who have lupus are young women of childbearing age. Symptoms include (but are not limited to) intense fatigue, exhaustion, joint pains, thinking and memory problems, and skin rashes. Others may get premature heart disease, strokes, or will develop heart inflammation. The Mayo Clinic ays that there is no cure for lupus, but some treatments can help control symptoms.
Image by Nathan Siemers on Flickr.
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