Lupus Foundation of America and Lupus Canada Award Grant for Study Examining New Method to Predict Treatment Response in Lupus Nephritis to Improve Kidney Outcomes

The Lupus Foundation of America and Lupus Canada are pleased to announce Joan Wither, MD, PhD, FRCPC has been awarded the 2023 Lupus Canada Catalyst Award for her study “Interferon and Prediction of Treatment Responses in Lupus Nephritis,” focused on interferon (IFN)-induced genes (an inflammatory marker) to predict treatment response in lupus nephritis with a new technique that could be incorporated into routine analysis of kidney biopsies.

Dr. Wither will be examining an inflammatory marker called IFN-induced genes in patients with lupus nephritis (lupus-related kidney disease). Studies have recently shown that the presence of high levels of IFN-induced genes found during kidney biopsies are associated with poor treatment responses in a small number of patients. This inflammatory marker can potentially be used to predict the response to therapy in lupus nephritis patients, however, the current technique used to measure this is expensive, time consuming, and requires fresh tissue samples, preventing its use as a clinical test. Dr. Wither’s research will use a newly developed technique to measure the levels of IFN in the kidney, by examining the levels of IFN-induced proteins, rather than genes.

“Lupus nephritis is highly variable in its severity and response to therapy, with up to 30 percent of patients failing to respond to treatment, which can lead to decreased kidney function requiring dialysis or transplantation,” shared Dr. Wither. “The Lupus Canada Catalyst Award from the Lupus Foundation of America and Lupus Canada is allowing us to take critical steps in this research, which has the potential to improve kidney outcomes in patients with lupus nephritis.”

The Lupus Canada Catalyst Award supports and provides funding for one year to Canadian researchers at any stage in their career as they pioneer groundbreaking research that can potentially and positively impact the lupus population.

“Our partnership with Lupus Canada continues to enable us to support more researchers delving into crucial and innovative realms of lupus research,” said Joy Buie, PhD, MSCR, RN, Director of Research, Lupus Foundation of America. “Dr. Wither’s research on IFN-induced genes in patients with lupus nephritis holds the promise to revolutionize evaluation of lupus kidney biopsies and treatment strategies to improve kidney outcomes.”

“Today’s announcement between Lupus Canada and Lupus Foundation of America will kick start critical research into lupus nephritis clinical testing, with hope to improve treatment outcomes,” said Thomas J. Simpson, Chair of Lupus Canada. “Research funded through Lupus Canada’s Catalyst Grant, like Dr. Wither’s, is important in filling a gap in research for this commonly misunderstood disease. On behalf of Lupus Canada, I congratulate Dr. Wither on her award.”

Learn more about the Lupus Canada Catalyst Grant and the 2023 awardee.

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