The National SLE (Lupus) Center

Background
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a common chronic rheumatic disease that usually affects young women, and is associated with wide-ranging clinical manifestations.

The etiology of lupus is not well understood. It is thought to result from a disorder in immune regulation system whereby an immune response is induced against host antigens and subsequently leads to inflammation and irreversible damage to target organs. It usually pursues a chronic course and may lead to death due to lesions affecting the kidneys, the central nervous system and other vital organs.

The current therapy of lupus is based on corticosteroids and cytotoxic agents, which suppress the over-reactive immune system. This therapy, however, is not specific and its inevitable side effects may themselves be fatal.

Although the disease is known for many years, and its serological markers have been defined, there has been no major breakthrough in the understanding of lupus and in the treatment of this disease in the last two decades, and SLE still leads to severe morbidity and mortality in its victims- mainly young women. There are a variety of reasons for our failure in the understanding and treatment of this incapacitating disease: