Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE or lupus) is a complex disease with a variety of clinical manifestations, many of which can be debilitating or even fatal. It affects African Americans more frequently and more severely than other races in the U.S. It is known that genes play an important role in both whether a person gets lupus and how severely they will be affected. It is also known that the environment plays a role as well. Recent studies have isolated some chemicals in the blood, called antigenic epitopes that are only found in lupus patients and almost always precede a diagnosis of lupus.
Thanks to many willing African American participants, both with and without lupus, Dr. Gray-McGuire will seek to find the genes that cause the production of these chemicals and then explain how their production leads to lupus. She will conduct this project using new biotechnology and computational tools that allows them to scan the human genome with great precision. Upon the successful completion of this project, Dr. Gray-McGuire believes we will be one step closer to detecting lupus before it begins its destructive course.