Scientists Closer to Identifying Genetic Risk Factors in Autoimmune Disease

Mar 09, 2011, 15:22 ET from Alliance for Lupus Research

Alliance For Lupus Research Commits $500,000 To Glean Genetic Basis For Lupus In African Americans And Other Ethnicities

Powerful ImmunoChip Technology Expands Range of Testing

NEW YORK, March 9, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Alliance for Lupus Research (ALR) – the world's largest private funder of lupus research – today announced funding of an important new study to identify lupus susceptibility genes in multiple ethnicities including African Americans, who are three times more likely than Caucasians to have the disease. The study, part of the SLE Genetics Consortium (SLEGEN), is among the few to concentrate so heavily on the genetic variants in non-Caucasian populations and will employ a powerful genotyping platform known as the ImmunoChip, allowing for a significantly broader evaluation of genetic variations in individuals while utilizing the most current and comprehensive information about human DNA.  

The ALR is the only organization to recommend researchers include lupus information on the chip, which was previously designed for other autoimmune diseases, and to stipulate the study be expanded to include non-Caucasian ethnicities.

"We are proud to advocate for and fund such an important study geared toward understanding the genetic basis of lupus in diverse populations," said Ken Farber, executive director, Alliance for Lupus Research. "The ALR is the only organization to support a study like this.  We believe that such cutting-edge research is moving us one step closer to a cure for this debilitating disease."

The ImmunoChip will allow researchers to test a quarter of a million genetic markers in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).  Because the ImmunoChip is being employed by researchers studying other autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis, scientists will have the opportunity to evaluate the common shared genetic risk factors across many autoimmune disorders.    


The three-year International SLE Genetics (SLEGEN) Consortium research project was founded and supported with $2.25 million in funding from the Alliance for Lupus Research (ALR). Published in the January 20, 2008, issue of Nature Genetics, the results underscore the role of genetic variants in predisposing an individual to developing lupus. Researchers studied the DNA of more than 6,700 women, including individuals with lupus, their family members and control subjects. After sifting through a massive database and scanning the entire genome for more than 317,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), scientists discovered four genes with robust evidence of genetic linkage to lupus and nine additional genes with promising evidence of linkage to the disease.

About Lupus

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE, or lupus) is a chronic autoimmune disease that can affect the joints and almost every major organ in the body, including the heart, kidneys, skin, lungs, and brain.  As many as 1.4 million people in the United States have lupus which affects mostly women during childbearing years, though men and children can have the disease.  Lupus is three times more common in African-American women than in Caucasian women and is also more prevalent in women of Latino, Asian, and Native American descent.

About the ALR

The Alliance for Lupus Research (ALR) is a national voluntary health organization dedicated to finding better treatments and ultimately preventing and curing systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE, or lupus), a debilitating autoimmune disease.  The organization is based in New York City and chaired by Robert Wood Johnson IV, a member of the founding family of Johnson & Johnson.  Since its founding in 1999, the ALR has given more money to lupus research than any non-governmental agency in the world. The board of directors funds all administrative and fundraising costs, allowing one hundred percent of all donations from the public, and the proceeds of our signature grassroots fundraising program, Walk with Us to Cure Lupus, go directly to support research programs.  More information can be found at

SOURCE Alliance for Lupus Research