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Researchers Explore New Ways to Diagnose and Treat Lupus-Related Kidney Disease

by | Nov 22, 2021

Findings from newly published research may pave the way for exciting advancements in the diagnosis and treatment of lupus nephritis (LN, lupus-related kidney disease). The study identified 237 different biomarkers (measurable substances in the body that can indicate the presence of disease), all measured via non-invasive urine tests, that can help identify LN and kidney disease progression.

Researchers looked at 1,000 different urinary proteins across 30 people with LN and found one protein in particular, known as IL-16, was found at key sites of kidney injury and was tightly linked to lupus nephritis activity. These findings suggest that IL-16 may be an important protein for healthcare providers to monitor, as well as a target for future LN treatments. Additionally, the fact that the study found 200+ urinary proteins were linked to LN suggests that simple, non-invasive urine tests can offer an easy yet effective way to detect LN and track its progress.

“Noninvasive biomarkers that reflect the degree and type of kidney inflammation such as urinary IL-16 may revolutionize the treatment of lupus nephritis. Soon, we may be able to personalize, and fine tune treatment based on frequent urine tests to minimize the development of permanent kidney disease. Ongoing studies will tell us if IL-16 can detect lupus nephritis before abnormal urine protein (the currently available test), thereby potentially shifting the management of kidney lupus from treatment to prevention. Finally, these findings nominate IL-16 as a novel potential target for the development of new therapies!” says Dr. Andrea Fava, a Gary S. Gilkeson Career Development Awardee with the Lupus Foundation of America and primary investigator of the study.

Today, LN treatments are effective in only 30% of the people living with the disease. The latest findings may help promote new drug development and profoundly change the way LN is diagnosed and managed in the future. Learn more about lupus and the kidneys. The Lupus Foundation of America supports Dr. Fava’s lupus research through its Gary S. Gilkeson Career Development Award. Click here to learn more about the Gary S. Gilkeson Career Development Award and here to learn more about Dr. Fava’s work.

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