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John Mountz, MD, PhD

The University of Alabama at Birmingham

B-cell Control Point Dysregulation in African Americans in SLE

Dr. Mountz is investigating a new explanation for how lupus develops and the reason some people are at greater risk for flares and kidney disease. He found that patients with high levels of the molecule interferon beta (IFN-β) within their early developing (“baby”) B cells (the immune cells that grow to become autoantibody-producing cells) are more likely to have higher levels of autoantibodies and kidney disease. Among those individuals, African American patients, who are disproportionately affected by lupus, had higher levels IFN-β in these cells compared to Caucasian patients. Dr. Mountz will use his Distinguished Innovator Award to determine if the high level of IFN-β production within these baby B cells causes them to grow into adult autoantibody-producing B cells that trigger lupus.

What this study means for people with lupus

The results of Dr. Mountz’ study will form a solid foundation to develop treatments that block IFN-β for use in people with lupus and the identification of biological markers to identify lupus patients, especially among the African American population, at high risk of flares and kidney disease, who may respond to interferon therapies.

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