What Is Lupus?

lupus symptomsSystemic lupus erythematosus (SLE or lupus) is a chronic autoimmune disease that can be fatal.  However, with recent medical advances, deaths from the disease are becoming rarer. As with other autoimmune diseases, the immune system attacks the body’s cells and tissue.  This results in inflammation and tissue damage. SLE can affect any part of the body.  It most often harms the heart, joints, skin, lungs, blood vessels, liver, kidneys and nervous system.
The course of the disease is unpredictable. There are periods of illness (called flares) along with periods of remission. Lupus can occur at any age. It is most common in women, mainly of non-European descent.  

How Is Lupus Diagnosed?

Lupus can be hard to detect because it has many symptoms, and they can come on slowly. The American College of Rheumatology has a list of symptoms and other measures that doctors can use as a guide to decide if a patient with symptoms has lupus. If your doctor finds that you have at least four of these problems, and finds no other reason for them, you may have lupus:
  • Rashes:
    • butterfly-shaped rash over the cheeks — referred to as malar rash
    • red rash with raised round or oval patches — known as discoid rash
    • rash on skin exposed to the sun
  • Mouth sores: sores in the mouth or nose lasting from a few days to more than a month
  • Arthritis: tenderness and swelling lasting for a few weeks in two or more joints
  • Lung or heart inflammation: swelling of the tissue lining the lungs (referred to as pleurisy or pleuritis) or the heart (pericarditis), which can cause chest pain when breathing deeply
  • Kidney problem: blood or protein in the urine, or tests that suggest poor kidney function
  • Neurologic problem: seizures, strokes or psychosis (a mental health problem)
  • Abnormal blood tests:
    • low blood cell counts: anemia, low white blood cells or low platelets
    • positive antinuclear antibody: referred to as ANA and present in nearly all patients with lupus
    • certain antibodies that show an immune system problem: anti-double-strand DNA (called anti-dsDNA), anti-Smith (referred to as anti-Sm) or antiphospholipid antibodies, or a false-positive blood test for syphilis (meaning you do not really have this infection)
Lab tests. If your doctor suspects you have lupus from your symptoms, you will need a series of blood tests to confirm that you do have the disease.

How Is Lupus Treated?

The symptoms of Lupus are treatable with corticosteroids and immunosuppressants.  However, there is currently no cure. Survival in patients with SLE in the United States, Canada and Europe is approximately 95% at 5 years, 90% at 10 years and 78% at 20 years.
Note: Please see your Physician/Rheumatologist if you have any of the above symptoms for proper management.

Helpful Links:
Slideshow: A Visual Guide to Understanding Lupus from WebMD 
Infographic Displaying Effects of Lupus on the Body

Current Lupus (SLE) Trials
 1AstraZeneca (Tulip-SLE1)
 2. HGS-1006-C1124 (SABLE)
 3. ITN Calibrate 
 4. Janssen_SLE1001_55920839 
 5. Roche WA29748-SLE 
 6. UCB Biopharma_SLE1001
AZ SLE LTE D3461C00009

 Current Macrophage Activation Syndrome (MAS)
1. SOBI/ Anakinra (MAS)