Lupus Canada Catalyst Award Given to Study Assessing Platelets Role

The one-year grant will help fund research by Éric Boilard, a researcher in Quebec

Marisa Wexler, MS avatar

by Marisa Wexler, MS |

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A scientist looks through a microscope in a lab, with test tubes and a flask on the counter nearby.

The Lupus Foundation of America and Lupus Canada are funding a new study to better understand the role of platelets in lupus.

The Lupus Canada Catalyst Award, a one-year grant to fund research for a scientist in Canada studying the autoimmune disease, was awarded to Éric Boilard, PhD, a professor at Université Laval and researcher at Centre de Recherche du CHU de Québec.

“Through our partnership with Lupus Canada we have been able to support even more researchers studying important new frontiers in lupus research,” Stevan Gibson, president and CEO of the Lupus Foundation of America, said in a press release.

“The Lupus Canada Catalyst Grant, in partnership with the Lupus Foundation of America, illustrates our commitment to investing in Canadian researchers who are focused in the area of discoid or systematic lupus erythematosus (SLE). We are proud to fund innovative lupus research projects that have the potential to significantly advance the field or impact the lives of people with lupus,” Malcolm Gilroy, volunteer president of Lupus Canada, said.

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Platelets are cellular fragments that play central roles in regulating blood clotting and inflammatory processes. Research by Boilard and others has shown that platelets are impaired in lupus, expressing higher levels of inflammatory genes that likely contribute to the disease.

Unlike true cells, platelets do not have a nucleus, the cellular compartment that normally houses a cell’s genetic material in the form of DNA. As such, impairment of platelet genes implies that there are problems with megakaryocytes, the large cells that normally break apart to give rise to billions of platelets every day.

“Intriguing new research findings have shown that megakaryocytes may contribute to immunity, which is why it’s critical for us to further understand these cells and how they may impact lupus,” Boilard said.

In the study, Boilard intends to evaluate whether and how megakaryocytes are impaired in mouse models of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), the most common form of the disease. The research team will also assess how megakaryocytes respond to inflammatory signals involved in the autoimmune attack that causes lupus.

“The Lupus Canada Catalyst Award from the Lupus Foundation of America and Lupus Canada is providing a unique opportunity to study this important area and utilize emerging new technologies to analyze these cells that hold potential promise for new lupus treatment pathways,” Boilard said.

Gibson said Boilard’s research into platelets and other studies have “have the potential to change our approaches to lupus classification, treatment and improve the lives of people impacted by lupus.”