Los Angeles, Oct. 3 – For the first time in decades, a significant number of clinical trials are being conducted to seek a treatment, perhaps even a cure, for lupus, a chronic and potentially fatal autoimmune disease that affects more than 1.5 million Americans — 10,000 in Los Angeles County alone.
A key question that clinical trials answer is, “Will this drug help people and be safe to take?” The question is urgent for people with lupus, because no major new treatments have been approved for the disease in nearly 50 years, and existing medicines are toxic and fraught with side effects.
Until recently, there weren’t even trials for people with lupus to enroll in; only recently, with breakthroughs in understanding why the immune system turns against itself in lupus, are new ideas for treatments making their way into the drug approval pipeline.
Fifteen clinical trials in lupus are underway in the Los Angeles area at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and an additional 10 are currently recruiting people with lupus. Physicians estimate that 1 in 5 people with the chronic and difficult-to-diagnose illness are not even aware that they are sick with lupus, according to Daniel Wallace, MD, clinical professor of medicine and attending physician in the Division of Rheumatology at Cedars-Sinai. Dr. Wallace is chief investigator at the lupus clinical trial center there.
Lupus Together for Clinical Trials Today, a free patient education program presented by Lupus LA that explains clinical trials for lupus, is scheduled for this Thursday, Oct. 4, from 5:50 to 8 p.m., in the Garden Room at the Veterans Memorial Building, 4117 Overland Ave., Culver City. Registration and a buffet dinner are from 5:30 to 6:30. Pre-registration is required; call Lupus LA at 310-652-7770.
Dr. Wallace and Jennifer Grossman, MD, assistant professor of medicine at UCLA Medical Center, will explain the clinical trial process, why these trials are so important for finding new treatments for lupus, and what is expected of participants. People interested in enrolling will also be given a chance to speak with others who have gone through the process.
“It’s important to be informed about the clinical trial process and weigh the pros and cons of participating,” Dr. Wallace said. “New therapies that can be identified in clinical trails are critical in the search for a better life for people with lupus. Physicians and scientists are committed to finding these breakthrough treatments. People with lupus are needed, too, as partners in this quest.”
Lupus Together for Clinical Trials Today is a campaign of the Lupus Research Institute’s National Coalition, a network of regional leaders in lupus. The Institute is the only national nonprofit organization singularly devoted to innovative science in lupus. Its official site for the new clinical trials campaign, www.LupusTrials.org, has logged more than 14,000 visitors since it launched in late spring. The campaign is supported in part by unrestricted educational grants from Aspreva Pharmaceuticals and Genentech/Biogen Idec.
About Lupus LA
Lupus LA is dedicated to supporting new science in lupus, and as a National Coalition member partners with the Lupus Research Institute (www.LupusResearchInstitute.org) to fund the innovative research needed to prevent, treat, and cure lupus. Lupus LA promotes lupus awareness and education, and is committed to serving the needs of people with lupus and their families in Los Angeles County. Contact Lupus LA at www.LupusLA.org, 8383 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 232, Beverly Hills, CA 90211, 310-657-5667.