The NIAMS investigators partnered with colleagues from the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH’s) National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, and the NIH’s Office of the Director.
Building on earlier NIAMS work involving tofacitinib, investigators led by Massimo Gadina, Ph.D., chief of the NIAMS Intramural Research Program’s (IRP’s) Translational Immunology Section, and colleagues, examined the effects of the drug on lupus-prone mice. One group of mice already had symptoms of the disease, and were given the drug twice a day over the course of six weeks. Another group of mice had not yet developed symptoms, and were treated with the drug daily over eight weeks.
The results suggested that inhibiting the JAK-STAT pathway could be a promising therapy for lupus. In the mice that had already developed the condition, the researchers found that many symptoms were reversed, including kidney disease, skin inflammation, and blood vessel damage. In the mice that had not yet developed symptoms, the drug appeared to prevent the onset of disease entirely.
Subsequent studies will determine if tofacitinib can safely control lupus symptoms in humans, and potentially prevent flares for those at high risk.
Colleen Labbe, M.S.