LFA Rings Nasdaq Bell, Calling Attention to Lupus and Importance of Early Diagnosis

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by Mary Chapman |

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Only a select few are invited to ring the Nasdaq stock exchange bell. The Lupus Foundation of America (LFA) was among them, taking part in closing ceremonies earlier this month.

The foundation’s goal in those June 7 ceremonies was to raise awareness of the unpredictable and often-misunderstood disease and point up the need for early diagnoses.

”The Lupus Foundation of America is excited to participate in the bell ringing ceremony at the Nasdaq stock exchange, and to connect with those who share our vision of improving the lives of people affected by lupus,” Stevan W. Gibson, LFA president and chief executive officer, said in a news release before the event.

”This opportunity underscores our ongoing commitment to increase people’s understanding of lupus and stressing the importance of early diagnosis of the disease.”

A recent foundation poll found that 63 percent of U.S. residents surveyed had never heard of lupus, which affects 5 million people worldwide and 1.5 million in the United States.

Because symptoms are not consistent from patient to patient, and frequently overlap with those of other diseases, lupus is difficult to diagnose. Patients often undergo years of testing — six, on average — before an accurate diagnosis is made. A key LFA aim is faster diagnoses.

The need for better diagnostic tools led the LFA to back early research into the development of cell-bound complement activation products (CB-CAPs) called AVISE Connective Tissue Disease (CTD) by Exagen, a foundation partner. Those products are now a main component of the company’s diagnostic and disease monitoring tests.

AVISE SLE Prognostic aims to facilitate early diagnosis and management of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), the disease’s most common form. It works by assessing key biomarkers through CB-CAPS — markers of inflammatory response.

Another Exagen test, AVISE SLE Monitor, marries two kinds of biomarkers — CB-CAPS and anti-double-stranded DNA antibodies — to help physicians evaluate disease severity and how well a patient is being managed.

The diagnostic tool has been shown in investigations to be a marked improvement over conventional lab tests and medical history, the commercial-stage diagnostics company reports.

For its work to slash the time it takes to diagnose lupus, the LFA will honor Exagen later this year with the National Research Innovation Award.

Throughout May, Lupus Awareness Month, the LFA and its partners spotlighted tools, resources, and campaigns to educate the public and those at risk about the disease and diagnostic processes. All of the efforts are ongoing.

In related news, a recent study found that platelet-bound C4d, one of Exagen’s patented biomarkers, may be used in conjunction with other biomarkers to estimate the risk of blood clots in SLE patients.