OKLAHOMA CITY — New research from the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation is taking physicians closer to personalized treatment solutions for patients suffering from lupus.
Two Edmond residents, Judith James, M.D., Ph.D., and Joel Guthridge, Ph.D., are leading studies that hopefully will give more effective lupus treatments to those with the disease.
In the new clinical study, led by James, researchers examined molecular clues about how patients responded to a powerful lupus medication. The results, they say, could help guide physicians as they seek to treat a disease that affects an estimated 1.5 million Americans, according to the Lupus Foundation of America.
“One of the biggest challenges we face in treating lupus is that we do not have any medications that work without side effects for every single patient,” James said, who serves as OMRF’s Vice President of Clinical Affairs. “We need to better understand why some medications work for some patients and not others — without having to go through a trial-and-error process.”
James and her OMRF research team focused on an immunosuppressive drug called mycophenolate mofetil (CellCept or MMF), developed for people who have had kidney, heart or liver transplants. This drug is used in many lupus patients who have potentially serious complications from the disease, like involvement of the kidneys, brain or multiple organs.
The study compared patients who were taking mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) to those who were not taking MMF, studying how MMF impacted immune cell types and blood markers.
“By looking at people on MMF compared to those off, we can try to identify specific markers in the blood for those who are on it as well as those who have stopped,” said OMRF immunologist Joel Guthridge, Ph.D., who collaborated with James on the study. “This is giving us new clues as to how MMF works in specific patients by seeing what the immune system does both on and off it.”
Other OMRF researchers who contributed to the project were Samantha Webb, Ph.D., Hua Chen, Ph.D., Rufei Lu, M.D., Ph.D., and Susan Macwana.
The work was funded by grants from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.