Scientists and physicians at OMRF and the Lupus Foundation of America are hoping to win greater support for lupus research during Lupus State Advocacy Day.
Lupus is a devastating autoimmune disease in which the immune system loses the ability to differentiate between invading illness and the body’s own cells. It can strike any part of the body, but it commonly attacks the skin, joints, blood and kidneys of patients—and can be life-threatening.
With more than 25,000 Oklahomans suffering from lupus, the issue is vital to the health of the state, said OMRF scientist Kathy Moser, Ph.D. Moser will be speaking at the Capitol today along with OMRF representatives Astrid Rasmussen, M.D., Ph.D., and Joe Rawdon, RN.
“In the past 10 years, science has made amazing strides in the understanding and treatment of lupus,” said Moser, Director of the Lupus Family Registry and Repository at OMRF. “With the support of the state and the people of Oklahoma, we can do better still.”
While Oklahoma has become a leader in lupus research, there are many in the state who don’t know about the disease, she said. The goal of Lupus State Advocacy Day is for everyone to learn about lupus and how they can help find new treatments for the disease.
Recent breakthroughs include a number of new lupus-related genes found in an international study led by OMRF scientist Patrick Gaffney, M.D., and Moser.
Benlysta, the first drug in 50 years approved for the treatment of lupus, was tested in OMRF’s Clinical Pharmacology program.
“It’s a very exciting time in lupus research,” said Joan Merrill, M.D., head of Clinical Pharmacology. “But as wonderful as it is to have one new treatment, there’s a long way to go to make sure everyone with lupus is getting the correct care. And that will take time and resources.”
Members from twelve Oklahoma chapters of the Lupus Foundation of America will be visiting state legislators to ask for more funding for lupus research and patient support. The groups represented are from Ardmore, Bartlesville, Chickasha, Claremore, Davis, Edmond, Holdenville, Lawton, Marlow, Oklahoma City, Ponca City, Tahlequah, Tulsa and Weatherford.
State Senator Constance Johnson will present the Lupus Awareness Month proclamation in the Senate and State Representative Joe Dorman will be issuing the proclamation in the House. The Governor’s office will be issuing a commendation for Lupus Awareness Month.