£4.1m project for better lupus treatment

£4.1m project for better lupus treatment

Manchester to lead project for better lupus treatment

Earlier today the Minister for Life Sciences George Freeman announced a £13.7 million investment by the government in the life sciences sector. The consortia funded in this round, cover a spectrum of diseases from the rare condition Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) to more common conditions affecting millions of patients. The University of Manchester is to lead a new £4.1 million consortium of universities and industry partners in a project aimed at eliminating the 'trial and error' approach to the treatment of lupus.

The MASTERPLANS consortium will 'stratify' patients with SLE, a chronic, incurable disease caused by a person's immune system attacking organs and tissues, such as the joints, skin, kidneys and brain. It affects around 1 in 2,000 people in the UK and there is currently huge variability in how well patients respond to the handful of drugs available to treat the condition. Many studies show that only 40-50% of patients will respond well to any particular treatment. Each patient has their own 'fingerprint' of disease, with different organs involved and varying degrees of severity.

Professor Ian Bruce from The University of Manchester's Institute of Inflammation and Repair and Director of NIHR Manchester Musculoskeletal Biomedical Research Unit said: "We will be studying a whole range of factors which can influence the success or failure of treatment. By examining the genetic profile, immune response and clinical data of groups of patients we aim to identify key factors that predict more accurately the right treatment to offer to individual patients."

By giving the right treatment to patients first time, the new approach will reduce the time needed to get SLE under control and also reduce long-term complications which are often related to poor control of disease as well as the long-term use of steroids in this population. Such an approach will also be a better use of healthcare resources.

"This research shows great promise in guiding physicians to the most appropriate and effective treatment to make a real improvement in patients' lives. An added bonus is that patients have been invited to become collaborators in shaping aspects of the research, and we look forward to working together with scientists, hospital consultants and industry partners"

"Lupus is a very complex auto-immune condition and many patients find this condition particularly difficult to live with: the unpredictable nature of the illness and the wide variety of symptoms which they experience often seriously impinge on their ability to work, to have relationships, and to raise a family. However, with prompt and appropriate treatment the outcome can be improved." Jane Dunnage, Chair of LUPUS UK