In addition to the clinical study, researchers will look at how B and T cells function in the immune systems of lupus patients. Previous studies have shown that the dysfunctioning T cells, which normally regulate the immune response, coupled with overactive B cells, which target both foreign and healthy cells, are responsible for the destructive autoimmune process that takes place in lupus. Researchers will compare the activity of B and T cells extracted from patients before stem cell transplant therapy with those that repopulate in the "new" immune system after therapy. They will be looking for cell properties that may contribute to the faulty immune response found in lupus. B cell studies will be conducted by scientists at NIAMS, while T cell studies will be conducted by scientists at NCI.

Researchers at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases will join this collaborative effort, investigating the central nervous system and kidney involvement, respectively, of lupus patients. "This study is an example of what can be accomplished when scientists from various disciplines combine resources and experience to create better outcomes for patients," said Dr. Katz.

Lupus is a chronic, inflammatory, autoimmune disease that mainly affects women of child-bearing age. Its symptoms range from unexplained fever, swollen joints and skin rashes to severe damage of the kidneys, lungs or central nervous system. Lupus is three times more common ?? and is frequently more severe ?? in African Americans and Hispanics/Latinos. Studies show these groups also experience more complications of lupus, including kidney failure for both and neurological problems for African Americans.

For additional information on this clinical study, please contact:

Patient Recruitment and Public Liaison OfficeBuilding 6110 Cloister CourtBethesda, Maryland 20892-4754Toll Free: 1-800-411-1222TTY: (301) 594-9774 (local), 1-866-411-1010 (toll free)or e-mail at prplcc.nih