The Dream of a Cure

Drawing of a rainbow. Caption reads: Lupus patients dream of a cure.

The Dream of a Cure blog post by Iris Carden

One thing lupus patients have in common I think is this: from the day we’re first diagnosed, we dream of having a cure, of going back to a life before all of the pain and fatigue and everything else that goes with it.

Until 1999 with the development of belimumab (Benlysta), we didn’t even have drugs designed specifically to treat lupus. We’ve used drugs developed for malaria, and cancer, and anti-inflammatories and pain relief.

Even this relatively new drug doesn’t cure lupus, but helps to keep it under control.

Lupies tend to be on cocktails of drugs: a bit of steriod, a bit of methotrexate (chemotherapy drug) or hydroxychloroquine (anti-malarial), a bit of meloxicam (or other anti-inflammatory), a pyralin (designed for ulcerative colitis), a bit of whatever other drug seems to help, or any combination of some or all of those. Our doctors tweak the cocktail in response to changes in symptoms.

In the past week, I read a good news story, one which suggests we might be on the way to the holy grail: an actual cure.

Scientists in Germany treated five lupus patients by modifying some of their T cells to enable them to combat rogue B cells. The rogue B cells produce auto-antibodies in lupus patients.

Four months after the treatment, the patients had normal B cells, producing normal antibodies.

Patients went from severe lupus to no longer needing their lupus medications. So far, some patients have been 17 months without needing medication.

Of course, there’s no knowing what will happen to these patients years down the track, or how long before this treatment is out of testing and widely available (if ever), but this is definitely good news for lupus patients. We’re, hopefully, a step closer to a cure.


Scientist hails autoimmune disease breakthrough by Ian Sample (The Guardian)

Treatment offers new hope for lupus – and maybe for other autoimmune diseases too by Eric Morand (The Conversation)

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By Iris Carden

Iris Carden is an Australian indie author, mother, grandmother, and chronic illness patient. On good days, she writes. Because of the unpredictability of her health, she writes on an indie basis, not trying to meet deadlines. She lives on a disability support pension now, but her ultimate dream is to earn her own living from her writing.

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