(DALLAS, Nov. 18, 2006) -- Baylor Research Institute has received a $6.2 million grant that will allow its immunology division, Baylor Institute for Immunology Research (BIIR), to establish a Center for Lupus Research. The grant comes from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, one of the National Institutes of Health.
Lupus is an autoimmune disease, which means that a person's immune system attacks their own body. According to the Lupus Foundation of America, approximately 1.5 million American's have a form of lupus and while lupus can strike men and women of all ages, 90 percent of lupus patients are women.
"This was an extremely competitive grant and we are fortunate that our proposal for a Center for Lupus Research was selected. The goals of the Center for Lupus Research include the characterization of several cell types isolated from the blood of lupus patients," explains Virginia Pascual, M.D., director of the Center for Lupus Research.
"We will identify how lupus alters cells of the immune system, which leads to abnormal levels of numerous regulatory proteins. This information will allow us to discover immune system markers of disease activity and to measure responses to therapies that we are developing. We expect to have a clear picture of how a lupus patient's immune system is 'reprogrammed' to attack the patient's own body," adds Dr. Pascual.
The Center for Lupus Research at BIIR is one of only four programs that were funded by this award mechanism. The other three, which focus on different diseases, are located at the University of Rochester, Yale University and the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston.
Jacques Banchereau, Ph.D., director of BIIR and associate director of the Center for Lupus Research, describes the award as "a perfect fit in our strategy to build a world-class autoimmunity center."