Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is the most common form of Lupus, an autoimmune disease, which can affect the skin, joints, kidneys, brain and other organs. While the cause of SLE is not fully known, T and B lymphocytes are considered to play a major role in the disease.
SLE is more common in women than men and appears most often in people between the ages of 15 and 40. According to the Lupus Foundation of America, at least five million people worldwide have some form of lupus. The number of people who actually have the condition is estimated to be even higher, as many cases remain undiagnosed.
The course of the disease is characterized by relapses or flares, alternating with periods of remission. Symptoms vary from person to person depending on the organ affected. Most common are joint pain and swelling, as well as skin conditions such as rash and sensitivity to light.
Current treatment of SLE is based on the use of anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive therapies, and there has been limited innovation in SLE treatment over the last 50 years. With improved diagnosis and treatment, the prognosis for SLE patients has improved in recent years – however, there is still no cure for the disease, and the need for new effective and safe therapies remains high for SLE patients.