Currently, the standards-of-care for lupus include anti-malarial drugs such as hydroxychloroquine, corticosteroids and immune-suppressive therapies, and biologics such as Benlysta. But new therapies are urgently needed, especially as anywhere between 30-60% of patients do not respond to available treatments. According to Medical XPress, a new study has been exploring how regulating CXCL5, a protein, could be a potential lupus therapy.
Lupus is considered an autoimmune disease. What this means is that the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue and organs, believing them to be “foreign invaders.” As a result, the tissue and organs become damaged and swollen. CXCL5 plays a role in immune function by regulating neutrophils.
In the study, published in Arthritis & Rheumatology, researchers examined murine models of lupus, as well as blood sourced from individuals living with lupus. Testing showed that CXCL5 levels were significantly lower than average in both cases. Next, the researchers injected CXCL5 into the murine models each week. Findings showed that:
- Over a 10-week period, CXCL5 injections improved overall survival rates by between 25-70+%.
- CXCL5 injections were shown to reduce lupus flares and symptoms, as well as improve kidney function.
- In conjunction with cyclophosphamide (a current standard-of-care), CXCL5 reduced toxicity and improved survival rates.
- CXCL5 was shown to be safe and well-tolerated in murine models.
Of course, more research is needed to determine if CXCL5 could be a target for lupus treatment. However, what we have seen so far does show promise.
What is Lupus?
As described above, lupus is a multisystem autoimmune disease. It can affect the joints, skin, brain, heart, lungs, kidneys, and even blood cells. Doctors believe that people are born predisposed to lupus and the onset occurs following some sort of environmental trigger, such as sunlight, infections, or medications. Women are 2x more likely than men to have lupus. It is also more common in those between ages 15-45, as well as in Asians, African-Americans, and Hispanics. Lupus is variable; each individual person has a different experience. Symptoms may occur constantly or only during episodes. These symptoms can include:
- A butterfly-shaped rash on the face
- Memory loss
- Raynaud’s phenomenon
- Skin lesions which worsen with sun exposure
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Dry eyes
- Joint pain
- Increased risk of infection