Infectious Disease

Professor honored for endogenous retrovirus expression research in patients with lupus

August 11, 2022

1 min read

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Disclosures:
Iwasaki reports no relevant financial disclosures.

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The Lupus Research Alliance has awarded the 2022 Lupus Insight Prize to Akiko Iwasaki, PhD, for her work connecting endogenous retroviruses and systemic lupus erythematosus.

“This work suggested the possibility that antibodies to endogenous retroviruses can trigger inflammatory responses in lupus patients,” Iwasaki, the Sterling Professor of Immunobiology, and professor of dermatology and molecular, cellular and developmental biology, at Yale School of Medicine, told Healio. “Similar immune responses might be exacerbating other autoimmune diseases.”

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Iwasaki next aims to investigate the possibility of similar endogenous retroviruses in patients with long COVID, she told Healio.

The $100,000 award recognizes an investigator who publishes “novel and important” research contributing to continued deepening of the understanding of lupus, according to a press release from the Lupus Research Alliance.

“I am honored to receive this prestigious award, and I sincerely thank the Lupus Research Alliance for recognizing our research,” Iwasaki said in the release. “I am eager to use this award to further understand the association between antibodies against the endogenous retroviruses and lupus-like disease in long COVID patients to ultimately improve their disease treatment outcomes.”

Iwasaki found that blood cells in patients with lupus expressed approximately 100 endogenous retroviruses at an expanded capacity. The work demonstrated that antibody responses to endogenous retroviruses may cause inflammatory responses in patients with lupus, Iwasaki told Healio.

Iwasaki next aims to investigate the possibility of similar endogenous retroviruses in patients with long COVID.

“We hope to understand if similar antibodies to ERV antigens are being generated in people with long COVID, and to examine what the contributions of lupus-associated autoantibodies are on long COVID,” she said. “We also want to understand what the overlaps are between lupus and infectious diseases.”

References:

Lupus Research Alliance awards 2022 lupus insight prize to immunologist Dr. Akiko Iwasaki. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/lupus-research-alliance-awards-2022-lupus-insight-prize-to-immunologist-dr-akiko-iwasaki-301573541.html. June 23, 2022. Accessed July 1, 2022.

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