Researchers at University College London study patients with lupus and antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) to increase understanding of what causes these diseases and improve treatment. They have a new and exciting idea that they believe could improve patient care and would like to get your thoughts on how important and relevant it is to patients before they apply for research funding to study it.
They are interested in how certain parts of the immune system (antibodies) interact with blood clotting (coagulation) and inflammatory (complement) pathways to cause disease. Antibodies are proteins that normally bind to foreign substances, such as infections, and clear them from the body. In autoimmune conditions such as lupus and APS, the immune system becomes scrambled and produces (auto)antibodies which bind to the body’s own cells causing damage. They are very interested in one particular autoantibody that binds to an enzyme called activated Factor (F)Xa. This enzyme is an important part of the coagulation pathway that becomes activated after injury to stop bleeding. It is also the target of new blood thinning drugs that work by inhibiting FXa activity in patients with excessive blood clots. FXa is also known to cause inflammation and recent evidence has shown that it may occur through activation of complement proteins. These proteins usually help the body to fight infection, but they are also known to be important in lupus and APS.
No one has studied whether anti-FXa antibodies alter FXa and complement activation in SLE and APS. They think that being able to identify anti-FXa antibodies and knowing how they interact with FXa and complement to cause disease would allow them to tailor treatments for patients according to their blood results. Patients positive for these autoantibodies may be suitable for treatment with anti-FXa drugs because of their ability to block FXa induced complement activation, even in the absence of a blood clot. Therefore, greater knowledge of how these antibodies affect FXa and complement would help them understand the benefits of this treatment. They also hope to develop new drugs to target these diseases.
However, before they apply for this research they’d like to ask you some simple questions to check they are looking to answer the questions that are most relevant to you. Please click on the link below to answer these questions:
The UCL APS research group would like to extend a grateful thank you for your time and support in answering these questions, it’s only together we can really make progress in treating these diseases.