The Kahlenberg Lab is heading investigations that have placed scientists on the verge of understanding changes, at the most basic level, that occur in the skin of people with lupus, and importantly, the skin’s response to ultraviolet (UV) light. The way that lupus skin cells behave when exposed to even low levels of UV light is dramatically different than normal cells. And currently, our most reliable treatments are globally immunosuppressive therapies that are not targeted to the specific disease pathway of the patient. However, with promising drugs in development, we’re working to be able to identify the best therapy based on the skin cells of each person, cultivating a future of individualized precision treatment plans for patients.
At Michigan Medicine, the interdisciplinary scientific capital at our fingertips allows us to employ a broad bioinformatics approach to generate hypotheses. Today, we are one of few programs in the country exploring the complexities of lupus in this way, and the data we’re harnessing gives a clearer picture of the striking abnormalities in lupus skin cells. We have created a biorepository for lupus samples, and our scientists are evaluating genetic data from patients to determine if there are genetic links triggering lupus symptoms. And with robust resources, these questions and more can be answered in the foreseeable future.