Jun. 29, 2018

LFA-Funded Research Studies Continue to Reap Benefits for People with Lupus

Study results recently published by Lupus Science & Medicine show the continuing contributions of research funded by the Lupus Foundation of America (LFA). A partnership among three highly respected lupus research centers found that the patented biomarker, Erythrocyte-bound C4d (EC4d) can be used to monitor lupus disease activity.

While investigators must confirm these results in more extensive future studies, the EC4d biomarker provides doctors with a more sensitive tool to monitor disease activity among their patients with lupus, enabling a doctor to detect flares and other changes in the patient’s status earlier than they might obtain using other currently available tests.

Measurement of the EC4d biomarker is one of five tests included in the AVISE® SLE Monitor Test developed by Exagen Diagnostics. Research to develop this biomarker was supported initially in 2008 through a Lupus Foundation of America Novel Pilot Projects research grant.  Dr. Amy Kao, then with the University of Pittsburgh’s Lupus Center of Excellence, was funded for a study on the C4d biomarker.

The following year, the LFA awarded a childhood lupus research grant to Dr. Joseph Ahearn at the University of Pittsburgh and Dr. Hermine Brunner at the University of Cincinnati, for a study on the same biomarker for use in childhood lupus.

Research on the C4d biomarker also was funded in response to the LFA’s advocacy efforts that sought to increase funding for lupus research through the U.S. Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Peer-Review Medical Research Program. Dr. Ahearn was awarded a $1.4 million translational research grant award in 2008 for expanded research on C4d.

Using data from all of these studies, Exagen Diagnostics was able to develop the AVISE test for lupus that can be used to help confirm a diagnosis of lupus and, as this recently completed study suggests, may also be used to monitor lupus disease activity. All of these lupus research studies support the LFA’s strategic goals to reduce the time to diagnosis and to increase access to treatment and care.

The study results published in Lupus Science and Medicine include data and blood samples from 124 persons with lupus. The investigators compared measurements obtained using the EC4d biomarker with data collected using other biomarkers.  They then analyzed the data's relationship with measurements from existing instruments commonly used to measure lupus disease status.

The investigators found that the patented EC4d biomarker can reliably measure lupus disease activity, supporting its use as a monitoring tool in clinical practice. Future research on this biomarker will determine if EC4d can be used as an objective endpoint in clinical trials of potential new therapies for lupus and, as a guide for physicians when they are making critical treatment decisions for their patients with lupus.