Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers Determine a Contributing Genetic Factor of Photosensitivity in Lupus Patients

28.10.2003


Discovery opens doors to treating symptom that can cause the body to attack itself

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have identified a variant of the human gene for tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) as the cause for photosensitivity in lupus patients. This discovery, which was presented today at the annual scientific meeting of the American College of Rheumatology, will not only help in treating photosensitivity, but will also advance research on treating this potentially damaging symptom and possibly point to one of the genetic causes of lupus.

Victoria Werth, MD Associate Professor of Dermatology and Medicine in Penn’s School of Medicine, working in collaboration with Kathleen E. Sullivan, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and attending physician in The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Division of Allergy and Immunology, identified a variant of the TNF-alpha promoter that showed increased activity when exposed to sunlight. This discovery is crucial to understanding photosensitivity and lupus because TNF-alpha has been shown to stimulate apoptosis, the process of cellular death. As skin cells die, intracellular proteins move to the cell’s surfaces where they stimulate an immune reaction. The immune system makes new antibodies against these proteins and triggers further inflammation, causing the body to attack its own internal organs - just from sunlight.



As part of her research, Werth has studied the effects of TNF-alpha in cultured cells and patients. She has found that a large percentage of patients with subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus (SCLE), a highly photosensitive form of lupus, has one or even two copies of the TNF-alpha variant gene. Thus, when these cells are exposed to sunlight, the gene becomes overactive, and a large quantity of TNF-alpha is produced. This causes nearby skin cells to undergo apoptosis, therefore stimulating the immune system and triggering flares that could affect internal organs.

The increased presence of TNF-alpha in lupus patient cells suggests that additional genetic variants are associated with increased TNF-alpha production in response to sunlight. This could mean major advances in treating lupus patients.

“These results now let us think about different categories of drugs for treatment of photosensitivity,” says Werth. While drugs like antimalarials and thalidomide are already used to inhibit TNF-alpha and treat the skin manifestations of lupus, these findings allow researchers to test newer drugs that inhibit TNF-alpha. Also, as researchers better understand the wavelengths of light that trigger the disease, they can develop sunscreens that will hopefully improve the ability to block the harmful effects of sunlight.

Funding for this research was provided by the Lupus Research Institute through their Novel Research Program, which seeks to support highly promising novel approaches to discover the cause, improve the treatment and cure lupus.

Jen Miller | University of Pennsylvania
Further information:
http://www.uphs.upenn.edu/news/News_Releases/oct03/lupus.htm

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Inselspital: Fewer CT scans needed after cerebral bleeding
20.03.2019 | Universitätsspital Bern

nachricht Building blocks for new medications: the University of Graz is seeking a technology partner
19.03.2019 | Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The taming of the light screw

DESY and MPSD scientists create high-order harmonics from solids with controlled polarization states, taking advantage of both crystal symmetry and attosecond electronic dynamics. The newly demonstrated technique might find intriguing applications in petahertz electronics and for spectroscopic studies of novel quantum materials.

The nonlinear process of high-order harmonic generation (HHG) in gases is one of the cornerstones of attosecond science (an attosecond is a billionth of a...

Im Focus: Magnetic micro-boats

Nano- and microtechnology are promising candidates not only for medical applications such as drug delivery but also for the creation of little robots or flexible integrated sensors. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) have created magnetic microparticles, with a newly developed method, that could pave the way for building micro-motors or guiding drugs in the human body to a target, like a tumor. The preparation of such structures as well as their remote-control can be regulated using magnetic fields and therefore can find application in an array of domains.

The magnetic properties of a material control how this material responds to the presence of a magnetic field. Iron oxide is the main component of rust but also...

Im Focus: Self-healing coating made of corn starch makes small scratches disappear through heat

Due to the special arrangement of its molecules, a new coating made of corn starch is able to repair small scratches by itself through heat: The cross-linking via ring-shaped molecules makes the material mobile, so that it compensates for the scratches and these disappear again.

Superficial micro-scratches on the car body or on other high-gloss surfaces are harmless, but annoying. Especially in the luxury segment such surfaces are...

Im Focus: Stellar cartography

The Potsdam Echelle Polarimetric and Spectroscopic Instrument (PEPSI) at the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) in Arizona released its first image of the surface magnetic field of another star. In a paper in the European journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, the PEPSI team presents a Zeeman- Doppler-Image of the surface of the magnetically active star II Pegasi.

A special technique allows astronomers to resolve the surfaces of faraway stars. Those are otherwise only seen as point sources, even in the largest telescopes...

Im Focus: Heading towards a tsunami of light

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology and the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have proposed a way to create a completely new source of radiation. Ultra-intense light pulses consist of the motion of a single wave and can be described as a tsunami of light. The strong wave can be used to study interactions between matter and light in a unique way. Their research is now published in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.

"This source of radiation lets us look at reality through a new angle - it is like twisting a mirror and discovering something completely different," says...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

International Modelica Conference with 330 visitors from 21 countries at OTH Regensburg

11.03.2019 | Event News

Selection Completed: 580 Young Scientists from 88 Countries at the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting

01.03.2019 | Event News

LightMAT 2019 – 3rd International Conference on Light Materials – Science and Technology

28.02.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Solving the efficiency of Gram-negative bacteria

22.03.2019 | Life Sciences

Bacteria bide their time when antibiotics attack

22.03.2019 | Life Sciences

Open source software helps researchers extract key insights from huge sensor datasets

22.03.2019 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>