We are an diverse group of researchers in the Immunite Mechanism & Modulation Engineering Lab led by Dr. Gregory Szeto at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. We focus on harnessing the immune system to battle diseases. Our goal is to raise $5,000 to support exciting research that will develop a new treatment for patients with lupus. This funding will support approximately 3 months of research by a Ph.D. candidate, Marilyn Allen.
What is LUPUS?
Lupus is a chronic, inflammatory autoimmune disease affecting 1.5 million Americans. The disease causes the body to attack healthy tissues and organs, including the brain, lungs, kidneys, and skin. You may recognize it from the characteristic butterfly-shaped rash often seen on a patient's face. Lupus severely damages the kidneys (termed lupus nephritis), and this is the leading cause of death and complication for >50% of lupus patients. Many require a kidney transplant or dialysis.
Lupus has no cure and treatments are limited. In fact, there was a 56 year gap before the most recently approved drug for lupus! Standard treatment currently includes immunosuppressive agents, corticosteroids, antimalarials, and immunotherapy. These drugs can be effective in decreasing symptoms, but they have many drawbacks such as toxicity and a long delay before patients see relief from symptoms. Our research aims to develop a new treatment for patients with lupus that is more tolerable, less toxic, fast-acting, and as effective (or more) in improving symptoms compared to current options.
what we do and how it Advances LUPUS research
What is a nanoparticle? They are materials smaller than the diameter of human hair, similar in size to a virus. They can hold drugs and can carry them to specific sites in the body. Our research uses nanoparticles to deliver drugs to the immune cells that cause lupus. The drugs we're most interested in are antimalarials (i.e. Plaquenil and Aralen). They work by blocking the pathways that cells use to cause inflammation, thus controlling the overactive immune system in lupus patients. Limitations of antimalarials include the up to 3 month delay before active drug dose is achieved, and the risk of irreversible vision loss since the drugs accumulate in the eye over time. By loading antimalarials in nanoparticles, we expect to 1) increase the onset of active drug, 2) limit toxicity, 3) reduce decrease disease activity, and 4) decrease the antimalarial dose normally prescribed to SLE patients.
how you can help
1. Donate to support efforts to advance lupus research at UMBC. All gifts make a difference. We hope we can count on you!
2. Share this project with anyone you think would support us – on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, by email, telephone, etc. In fact, share it with everyone you know as we think it's a great idea, and the more people who know about it, the more likely we are to make this work out brilliantly!
See your gift in action by following Marilyn on Twitter!
All funds raised are administered by the UMBC Foundation for the benefit of UMBC.