The Lupus Foundation of America has funded a $110,000 grant for an Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation scientist to study the role of a specific protein.
For 20 years, researcher Carol Webb has studied ARID3a, a protein important in the production and development of adult stem cells — but her work had not led to lupus research until recently.
“You can't force science to go one way or the other,” said Webb. “When you make a discovery, you have to follow where it leads.”
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system confuses healthy cells with foreign substances, like viruses and bacteria, and attacks the body's tissues and organs. The illness affects 2 million Americans, roughly 90 percent of whom are women.
When scientists at OMRF discovered a correlation between autoimmunity and the Epstein-Barr virus, it piqued Webb's interest. She knew the virus could induce the creation of the ARID3a protein in some cells and had seen that mice whose cells created too much of the protein made the same kinds of antibodies sometimes observed in lupus patients.