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Northwell Health’s Feinstein Institutes awarded $3 million for lupus research

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The Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research — the home of research for Northwell Health — was recently awarded a $3 million Global Team Science Award from the Lupus Research Alliance.

An estimated 200,000 people in the United States have lupus. About 90 percent are women.

Lupus affects joints, skin and organs, often causing people to experience fatigue, brain fog, joint pain, rash and fever.

Feinstein plans to use the award to deploy a multi-disciplinary global team to study patients who have the autoimmune disease and are in drug-free remission.

Dr. Betty Diamond, director of the Institute of Molecular Medicine at the Feinstein Institutes and the Maureen and Ralph Nappi Professor of Autoimmune Diseases, said it’s possible that some lupus patients can experience reduced flare-ups and go into remission.

“It is critical to understand what is going on at a molecular level in patients who fall into this category, including patients who still exhibit neuroinflammation,” she said. “We wonder if those with continuing neuroinflammation are those who will relapse.”

Using brain scans and cell analysis, researchers can determine which cells are active or inactive during remission, how the brain changes during this time, and other immune response biomarkers that can track the progression of the disease, she said.

This information would help paint a better picture of the cells and pathways involved in lupus remission, which would help physicians find ways to better treat or cure the disease.

“Through the generous support of the Lupus Research Alliance, we hope to develop new tools in assessing remission, identifying new signs of lupus flare-ups and novel potential drug targets,” said Diamond, who in May was elected as a member to The National Academy of Sciences.

Top photo: Dr. Betty Diamond. Photo courtesy of Northwell Health.