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Common anti-seizure drug could be effective for lupus patients

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. A common anti-seizure drug may be effective against certain conditions associated with lupus, according to animal research at Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

The drug, valproic acid (Depakote), prevents skin disease and reduces the severity of kidney disease in a mouse model of lupus, said Nilamadhab Mishra, M.D., a rheumatologist at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.

"Valproic acid may be a potential cost-effective disease-modifying agent in lupus," Mishra reported today (Nov. 16) at the American College of Rheumatology meeting in San Diego.

And because the drug has been on the market since 1983, Mishra said that clinical trials to use valproic acid for lupus could begin as early as next year.

"We already know the side effects," he said. That means that researchers can skip over the safety studies and move quickly to clinical trials to test its efficacy. While physicians could prescribe valproic acid "off-label" to lupus patients, "it is better to have a clinical trial to prove that it does help in lupus," Mishra said.

Systemic lupus affects more than 1 million Americans, mostly women. About half of human patients with systemic lupus have kidney problems, but achy joints, skin lesions, frequent fever, arthritis and prolonged or extreme fatigue are far more common.

Mishra's team tested valproic acid in a type of mouse that develops lupus that is similar to the lupus that occurs in people. None of the mice in the treatment group developed skin disease whereas all mice in the placebo group developed the disease, Mishra said. The results were similar for kidney and diseases of the spleen.

For instance, the spleen ordinarily enlarges in lupus. The size of the spleen in the treatment group was nearly one-third less than the size in the control group.

The study, which was paid for by a $250,000 grant from the Alliance for Lupus Research, was just one of several that Mishra pre
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Contact: Robert Conn
rconn@wfubmc.edu
336-716-4587
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center
16-Nov-2005


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