Indian origin professor gets USD 600000 grant to develop lupus cure

Lupus is a complex autoimmune disease that is difficult to diagnose, treat and defeat. Only one treatment has been approved in nearly 60 years.

Published: 23rd February 2018 05:45 PM  |   Last Updated: 23rd February 2018 05:45 PM   |  A+A-

Image for representational purpose only


HOUSTON: An Indian-origin professor and his two colleagues at the University of Houston have got a USD 600,000 private grant for their path-breaking research to develop a new treatment for lupus.

The Target Identification in Lupus grant from the Lupus Research Alliance has been given to Chandra Mohan, endowed professor in the university's biomedical engineering department, and his research team members Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz.

Lupus is a complex autoimmune disease that is difficult to diagnose, treat and defeat. Only one treatment has been approved in nearly 60 years.

"Lupus nephritis (kidney disease) is one of the most serious complications of lupus. With the TIL grant support, Chandra Mohan, MD, PhD, University of Houston will build on his existing discoveries to evaluate a potential new therapeutic target for lupus nephritis," the health organisation said.

Only seven lupus researchers across the country were asked to carry out these tasks and the grant will address fundamental questions in lupus research, remove barriers to new treatments and possibly find a cure for lupus and its complications, it said.

“Lupus is quite common among African-Americans and Hispanics here in US, and also common in Asia” Mohan told PTI.

"Our data suggests that measuring the levels of a molecule called ALCAM (activated leukocyte cell adhesion molecule) in the urine may be useful in monitoring progression of this disease.

" He said that with the grant his team proposes to investigate if lupus can be treated by blocking ALCAM using an antibody. "If this succeeds in animal models, the next step would be to examine if this might also be a good treatment target in patients with lupus," he said.

Researchers will examine ALCAM, which is also present in several kidney diseases and in the urine of patients with lupus kidney disease.

“Lupus patients may have increased ALCAM in both their immune systems and their kidneys, and this probably plays a major role in activating the immune system and causing the kidney disease in lupus patients,” said Mohan.

While healthy people need ALCAM to activate their T cells to fight off foreign microbes in the body, in patients with an autoimmune disease, the activated T cells end up just fighting the patient’s own tissues, rather than a foreign body.

Mohan will continue tracking ALCAM to confirm its presence in the kidneys of lupus patients rather than just the urine, while also investigating whether the increased ALCALM is indeed driving the disease.

His research will also include treating lupus by testing an antibody that blocks ALCAM. If the antibody does block lupus, then he could move onto translational studies and clinical trials, said Mohan, alluding to possible new drug therapies for the disease.

“We began this study looking for biomarkers and we think ALCAM is a good biomarker, meaning we may be able to track the disease by looking at the levels of ALCAM in the urine. But now we are finding that ALCAM may be a therapeutic target, too,” Mohan said.

Stay up to date on all the latest World news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp