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New research provides insight into immunity of lupus patients

MANHASSET, N.Y., June 21, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- The Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research Professor Betty Diamond, MD, has published findings in the July issue of Nature Immunology that provide new insight into the immune cell landscape of the kidneys of patients with lupus.

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that affects 1.5 million Americans and causes the immune system to lose the ability to differentiate between foreign agents and healthy tissue. The immune system becomes hyperactive, attacking healthy tissue while causing inflammation and damage to joints, skin and internal organs.

Patients experience a host of symptoms, from extreme fatigue to painful or swollen joints and skin rashes. Current therapies for lupus are toxic and insufficiently effective. Despite the rapid pace of research in immunology, most clinical trials aimed at discovering new therapies in lupus have failed, with only one new drug having been approved in the last five decades.

"I have dedicated my research career to discovering improved treatments for lupus because it's a devastating disease," said Dr. Diamond, director of the Institute of Molecular Medicine. "We cannot discover better treatments if we do not first understand what's happening in the body, so I am thrilled to collaborate on this study and to have discovered new information that will assist researchers in drug discovery."

Dr. Diamond and her colleagues set out to decipher the immune mechanisms that drive lupus so that researchers can better discover new therapies. To develop mechanistic hypotheses of disease, the team analyzed kidney samples from patients with lupus and healthy control subjects using single-cell ribonucleic acid (RNA) sequencing. Their analysis revealed the complexity of immune populations in kidneys of patients with lupus, which allowed them to identify 21 subsets of leukocytes active in disease, including multiple populations of myeloid cells, T cells, natural killer cells and B cells.

"Betty Diamond is a leader in discovering novel pathways that will benefit generations of patients living with autoimmune disease," said Kevin J. Tracey, MD, president and CEO of the Feinstein Institutes. "This paper is another important step in her approach to using basic science mechanisms to find future cures."

About the Feinstein Institutes
The Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research is the research arm of Northwell Health, the largest health care provider and private employer in New York. Home to 50 research labs, 2,500 clinical research studies and 4,000 researchers and staff, the Feinstein Institutes is raising the standard of medical innovation through its five institutes of behavioral science, bioelectronic medicine, cancer, health innovations and outcomes, and molecular medicine. We're making breakthroughs in genetics, oncology, brain research, mental health, autoimmunity, and bioelectronic medicine – a new field of science that has the potential to revolutionize medicine. For more information about how we're producing knowledge to cure disease, visit


Emily Ng



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SOURCE The Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research