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Protein find may lead to lupus therapy -

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(generated from captions) thwarting groups which may foment

home-grown fanaticism among young

Muslims. Jonathan Harley with that report. Even though the disease lupus affects around 20,000 Australians -

at least as many as AIDS, multiple sclerosis or cerebral palsy - it remains much more of a mystery to most of us. It's a potentially fatal disease in which the body's own immune system attacks healthy tissue, causing inflammation anywhere from the brain to the skin. There's no known cause or cure,

and there's a desperate need for new treatments

because the current drug therapies have serious side effects. Now scientists at Melbourne's Monash University have found that lupus patients have increased levels of a particular protein. It's a world-first discovery which they hope will lead to a new drug therapy and increase life expectancy. to reduce symptoms Natasha Johnson reports.

It's like a part of yourself has

died and you're never going to be

the person you thought you might

have been. Um ... and you just have

to sort of come to terms with the

fact that your whole life will have

limitations. 38-year-old mother of

two Kyla Finlay has lupus, a

potentially life-threatening

autoimmune disease for which there

is no cure. She was diagnosed at 21

when she came out in a rash similar

to this after three years of

inexplicably tired and unwell. to this after three years of feeling

Fatigue, I guess, general malaise.

get joint pain, really cold extreme Fatigue, I guess, general malaise. I

tease, where your extremities turn

blue and you don't have any feeling

in your feet and your hands. A

cocktail of drugs reduces the

symptoms, and enables her to work

part time, and care for her two

young children. But she needs lots

of rest and must avoid sunlight and

stress to prevent flare-ups.

I don't go out as much as I'd like

for fear of getting too tired. And

then, you know, putting too much

stress on my body and then getting

sick. Lupus is an inflammatory

disease in which the immune system

mysteriously turns on itself. White

blood cells are the frontline

of the immune system and this video blood cells are the frontline troops

shows them moving through the

bloodstream on the hunt for

infection or other foreign bodies.

So this is a normal blood vessel

you can see white blood cells, So this is a normal blood vessel and

little blobs, they stick to the you can see white blood cells, these

very briefly and then decide there little blobs, they stick to the wall

is nothing interesting there, they

let go and they go back into the

blood. But this is what happens in

the vessels of lupus sufferers.

You can see now how crowded this

blood vessel is with these white

blood cells. They're all sticking

the wall, and many of these cells blood cells. They're all sticking to

are now going to go through that

blood vessel and to the tissue.

So the white cells now are

attacking healthy tissue? That's

right. These attacks can occur

anywhere in the body from the brain

to major internal organs, joints

skin. People might present with to major internal organs, joints and

kidney failure, stroke, fitting,

seizures or other forms of brain

damage. People can present with

fluid collections around the heart

or lungs that that make it

to breathe. Basically lupus is or lungs that that make it difficult

thought of as the great imitator

because it can affect anior sgan,

can do almost anything. A further because it can affect anior sgan, it

problem is that the treatment of

high doses of steroids and immune

system suppressants can be almost

devastating as the disease. I have system suppressants can be almost as

fluid detention in my face. It's

very puffy. Also, weight gain is an

issue. Without treatment, patients

like Pauline Follett, who has lupus

of the brain, would die within one

to two years. But nowadays, they're

more likely to die from the side

effects of medication. There has

been no new treatment introduced

lupus for 30 to 40 years. Some of been no new treatment introduced for

the drugs we need to use can

actually cause diabetes,

infertility, osteoporosis,

cataracts, and infections. Lupus

affects mainly women of child

bearing age. While Kyla Finlay

escaped fertility problems, she's

developed osteoporosis. The brittle

bone disease which usually affects

the elderly. I guess it hit home

when I had a spontaneous fracture

my leg from not doing anything. when I had a spontaneous fracture in

But now there's new hope.

Researchers from Monash University

have been hunting for a better

treatment and may have found it

through the identification of a

protein called mif. A protein

is present in all of us, but in protein called mif. A protein which

studies on mice, the Monash

scientists have discovered it's in

much higher levels in lupus

sufferers. The theories about lupus

remind me a bit of the big bang

theory of the universe. We know a

lot about the history of the

universe but we don't know exactly

what happened in the first second.

In lupus, we know a lot about what

is happening in the disease when

it's present but we don't know what

was the thing that started it. Mif

clearly is involved in the

of the disease and blocking it clearly is involved in the existence

appears to be beneficial. Their

research has shown that by taking

mif out of the picture, the lupus

symptoms are significantly reduced.

This is an interesting protein. It

turns on inflammation, it causes

inflammation to get worse, and so

our laboratory is the first to

really show that if you take mif

away from animals that have lupus,

then these animals get much less

severe disease. So their survival

rate is dramatically increased.

It's a world-first discovery and

the Monash researchers today

presented it to the world Congress

on inflammation in Melbourne. The

next step is to create a drug that

can target the mif protein in lupus

patients. Pharmaceutical companies

are already developing such an

for use in other diseases, which are already developing such an agent

could be available in about five

years. And that's welcome news for

Kyla Finlay. If you can target the

right organ in the body and not get

fantastic. these side effects, it would be