NEW YORK, May 21 /PRNewswire/ -- The Lupus Research Institute and its National Coalition of state and local lupus organizations today announced the launch of www.LupusTrials.org, the official website for the new clinical trials campaign "Lupus Together: For Clinical Trials Today." The patient-friendly site is part of a year-long national initiative to educate the more than 1.5 million Americans with lupus-a chronic autoimmune disease for which there is no known cause, few medicines, and no cure-about the importance of participating in lupus clinical trials, and how to go about enrolling in one. The timing is critical, as promising new research findings spur drug developers to contemplate clinical research in lupus for the first time in decades. Of the more than 15 clinical trials underway, many explore alternatives to the presently used drugs that are often as destructive-or even more so-than the disease itself. Currently approved therapies for lupus can weaken bones, destroy eyesight, cause uncontrollable appetite and mood swings, and sharply increase the risk for infection, diabetes and infertility, among other insidious and potentially life-threatening complications. "Our patients need better treatment options," explains Margaret Dowd, president of the Lupus Research Institute. "Now is the time for the next generation of lupus therapies. We have waited long enough." To spread awareness of the existence and promise of clinical trials, visitors to the new website will not only learn about the clinical trial process but can read first-hand accounts of others who have participated in trials and get strategies for locating a trial that is taking place close to them. "Our hope is that the next 10 years will be the Golden Age for the development of new lupus drugs," says leading lupus doctor Richard Furie, MD, chief of rheumatology at North Shore-LIJ Health System in New York. "Science is ready. But for success, the lupus community must band together." "We have the experts to conduct the trials. We have the Institute and others to get the word out. But to get results, we need lupus patients to show interest. This is for them. They need to do their part." Without enough study volunteers, trials cannot successfully determine the effectiveness of a treatment. This may discourage companies from exploring new drugs for lupus in the future. To learn more about lupus clinical trials, log on to www.LupusTrials.org. The "Lupus Together: For Clinical Trials Today" is a campaign of the Lupus Research Institute National Coalition and is supported in part by unrestricted educational grants from Aspreva Pharmaceuticals, Genentech/Biogen Idec., and creative support from the New Jersey-based advertising agency, Galvanek & Wahl. About Lupus: Lupus is one of America's least recognized major diseases. It is estimated that as many as 2 million Americans have lupus. Systemic lupus erythematosus (S.L.E.), commonly called lupus, is a chronic and potentially fatal autoimmune disorder. It is considered the prototype autoimmune disease because the body's immune system forms antibodies that can attack virtually any healthy organ or tissue, from the kidneys to the brain, heart, lungs, skin, joints and blood. No major new treatments for lupus have been approved in the last 40 years, and existing medications are highly toxic and can have debilitating effects. About the Lupus Research Institute: The Lupus Research Institute (LRI) is the national nonprofit organization at the forefront of innovation in lupus research. Recognizing that most major medical breakthroughs come from unexpected directions, the Institute fosters and supports only the highest ranked new science to prevent, treat and cure this chronic autoimmune disease. Since its founding in 2000, the Institute has invested almost $20 million in novel lupus research, providing funding for 73 studies at 43 academic medical institutions in 22 states. Through its National Coalition, a network of national and regional leaders in major markets across America, the LRI also works with patient groups to advocate for increased research funding, to spread awareness of the severity of the disease and its complications, and to push for new treatments and a cure. To learn more about lupus and the Lupus Research Institute, visit www.lupusresearchinstitute.org.
SOURCE Lupus Research Institute