GILZ: Glucocorticoid Mediator, B Cell Regulator, and Lupus Target
Glucocorticoids are a type of steroid used to treat over 70 percent of lupus patients to reduce the immune response and the resulting inflammation. Unfortunately, glucocorticoids have very severe side effects including possible permanent organ damage and an increased risk of death, and safer treatments are urgently needed. Dr. Morand recently discovered a protein called GILZ that is produced by glucocorticoids and when activated reduces inflammation. With GILZ there appears to be none of the side effects usually associated with steroids, and the protein appears to play a very specific role in lupus, acting only on B cells (a type of white blood cell). In this research, Dr. Morand will improve our understanding of the role of GILZ in the immune system with the goal of using it as a new therapeutic target.
What this study means for people with lupus
Dr. Morand and his team have discovered a protein GILZ that may be a factor in causing lupus. If so, they will investigate if GILZ is a target for a safer therapy to replace the widely used steroids which can cause severe side effects that contribute to permanent organ damage and increased mortality.