Achievements in lupus research, education and advocacy cause for celebration and hope
The year 2009 will be remembered as a year of many firsts for lupus, including the first successful phase III clinical trial of a potential new treatment for lupus, the launch of the first-ever Ad Council public awareness campaign for lupus, and the first comprehensive report on the barriers to lupus drug development. And it appears there are no signs of any slowing of momentum as we enter the New Year.
Advances during 2009 in basic and clinical research on lupus hold promise for a greatly improved quality of life for the 1.5 million Americans and the more than five million individuals worldwide who are living with lupus. Two pivotal studies of Benlysta(TM) (belimumab) reached their primary endpoints that should enable the drug to become the first new treatment approved for lupus in more than a half-century. In addition, several studies published during 2009 provided new clues into the underlying causes of lupus and how the disease affects people of different genders, ages, races and ethnicities. In June, the Lewin Group issued a report commissioned by the Lupus Foundation of America (LFA) on barriers to lupus drug development. The report’s recommendations provide a roadmap to the further development and approval of a full arsenal of new, more tolerable and effective treatments for lupus.
Continued Growth in Awareness and Public Support for Lupus
Awareness of lupus further grew in 2009 with the launch in March by the Ad Council of a national public awareness campaign that targets individuals at greatest risk for development lupus. In addition, musicians Julian Lennon and James Scott Cook released a new digital single, “LUCY,” that helped to bring greater worldwide attention to lupus and generate funds to support lupus research.
The United States Congress expanded its support for lupus by greatly increasing funding for the National Lupus Patient Registry, and providing new funding for a national health provider education program to improve early diagnosis and treatment of lupus and reduce health disparities. In addition, Congress appropriated additional funding to support lupus research through the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense’s Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program.
These achievements were the result of the combined efforts of the Lupus Foundation of America and its national network of chapters and support groups, scientists and clinicians, industry representatives, congressional champions and leaders of federal agencies, countless lupus advocates and other volunteers, donors, and individuals with lupus and their families who have dedicated their energies to address this urgent health problem. While momentum had been building throughout the past decade, the historic events of 2009 provided solid evidence that we have entered a new era of discovery and hope in the search for the causes of and cure for lupus.
The LFA has compiled a list of ten significant accomplishments, including several firsts, in efforts to overcome lupus and its impact on individuals and families.