According to a story from lupus.org, a recent spending package was passed in the US House of Representatives that includes $14 million in funding specifically for researching lupus, an autoimmune disease. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) also receive a funding increase of $2 billion under the new package. The NIH is the biggest funder of lupus research in the US. Generally, lupus is not considered rare, but it may cause less common illness to occur, such as lupus nephritis.
Systemic lupus erythematosus, more commonly known as lupus, is a type of autoimmune disease in which the immune system begins to attack healthy tissue in many areas of the body. The cause of lupus remains poorly known, but the prevailing theory is that a genetic predisposition combined with some sort of environmental trigger is what gets it started. Certain genetic variants increase the risk, but no single causative gene has been determined. Vitamin D deficiency is another possible risk factor. Lupus is difficult to diagnose and can easily be mistaken for another disease. Symptoms include arthritis, poor circulation to the extremities, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, inflammation of the pericardium, fever, chest pain, swollen joints, red “butterfly” rash on the face, swollen lymph nodes, and hair loss. Treatment includes kidney transplant if kidney failure occurs, avoiding sunlight, and a variety of medications to control the immune system. To learn more about lupus, click here.
Funding includes $7.5 million for the lupus patient registry, $5 million towards the Department of Defense’s lupus research, $2 million for another lupus research program, and a total of $39.1 billion allocated to the NIH. The NIH is projected to put around $110 million of its budget towards researching the disease. The package was already approved by the Senate last week, meaning that its next stop is the desk of the president.
The Lupus Foundation has played a central role in the establishment of the patient registry for lupus. The tireless work of advocates, patients, and nonprofit organizations has been critical in order for the degree of funding that is being put forward to become a reality. The benefits will extend to patients who are dealing with the more rare complications and manifestations of this disease.