News Release

Development of DNA drugs gives hope to lupus patients

Peer-Reviewed Publication

BMC (BioMed Central)

A generation of DNA-like compounds, class R inhibitory oligonucleotides (INH-ODNs), have been shown to effectively inhibit cells responsible for the chronic autoimmune condition lupus. Researchers writing in BioMed Central's open access journal Arthritis Research & Therapy have demonstrated the anti-inflammatory effects of the INH-ODNs in both in vitro and mouse experiments.

Petar Lenert, from the University of Iowa, worked with a team of researchers to develop and test the compounds. He said, "The increased potency of class R INH-ODNs for certain cells involved in lupus flare-ups will help patients by providing specific inhibition, yet allowing them to generate a protective immune response when needed".

Lenert and his colleagues found that their INH-ODN drugs, composed of double-stranded DNA-like analogues carrying autoimmune-inhibitory sequences, were able to selectively reduce the activity of autoreactive B cells and dendritic cells. When given to mice with lupus, the compounds delayed death and reduced kidney damage.

Systemic lupus erythematosus, more commonly known simply as lupus, is thought to affect around a million people in the USA, but prevalence varies by country and ethnicity. It is much more common in women than men and there is currently no known cure. During periodic 'flares', the immune system of people with the condition mounts an attack on cells and tissues throughout the body, resulting in a range of symptoms including the characteristic 'butterfly rash' across the cheeks. With further testing, Lenert and his colleagues hope that class R INH-ODNs may become another weapon in the fight against the disease.


Notes to Editors

1. DNA-like class R inhibitory oligonucleotides (INH-ODNs) preferentially block autoantigen-induced B-cell and dendritic cell activation in vitro and autoantibody production in lupus-prone MRL-Fas lpr/lpr mice in vivo
Petar Lenert, Kei Yasuda, Liliana Busconi, Patrice Nelson, Courtney Fleenor, Radhika S Ratnabalasuriar, Peter L Nagy, Robert F Ashman, Ian R Rifkin and Ann Marshak-Rothstein
Arthritis Research & Therapy

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2. Arthritis Research & Therapy is an international, peer-reviewed online and print journal, publishing original research, reviews, commentaries and reports. Studies relate to the rationale and treatment of arthritis, autoimmune disease and diseases of bone and cartilage. The journal is edited by Prof Peter E Lipsky (USA) and Prof Sir Ravinder N Maini (UK) and has an Impact Factor of 4.04.

3. BioMed Central ( is an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the open access publishing model. All peer-reviewed research articles published by BioMed Central are made immediately and freely accessible online, and are licensed to allow redistribution and reuse. BioMed Central is part of Springer Science+Business Media, a leading global publisher in the STM sector.

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