Lupus can occur in several forms, but systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)--usually referred to simply as lupus--is the most serious type. It is an incurable disease marked by inflammation and damage to tissue and organs throughout the body, including the joints, skin, heart, kidney and central nervous system. Lupus is an autoimmune disorder, meaning the immune system mistakenly attacks the body's own tissue.
New research into lupus suggests how the immune system goes awry in the disease--a discovery scientists say could lead to better, more targeted treatments for lupus in the next few years. The new study suggests how this misguided immune system attack unfolds.
Drugs that suppress the immune system are already part of lupus treatment, but these treatments are nonspecific in their targeting of immune function. And the drugs carry side effects such as nausea, hair loss and an increased risk of infection and cancer. Suppressing only interferon-alpha could potentially provide a more targeted treatment. The findings suggest that a drug that would act against immune system protein called interferon-alpha could fight the disease.