The Search For A Cure! 

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University of Florida researchers say lupus treatment shows early promisePublished: Feb 11, 2015By: Doug Bennett

A new treatment that may reverse the effects of the most common type of lupus has shown promising results after undergoing early testing by a team of researchers at University of Florida Health.
The findings of a two-year study that used human cells and mouse models were published Feb. 11 in the journal Science Translational Medicine. The new treatment for systemic lupus erythematosus involves regulating metabolism in cells that affect how lupus develops in the body. It has yet to undergo clinical trial in humans.
Lupus is an immune system disorder that prevents the body from distinguishing between harmful germs and healthy tissue. In lupus patients, proteins known as antibodies that are supposed to ward off viruses and bacteria instead attack healthy tissue. This causes inflammation and can lead to irreversible scarring, blood clots and kidney, lung and cardiovascular problems.
Just as diet has a major effect on overall health, nutrients affect immune activity at the cellular level. Now, UF Health researchers may have found a way to rein in lupus by changing the way cells in the immune system use energy.
A key finding of the study involved the researchers characterizing the way specialized white blood cells known as CD4 T-cells use nutrients. In lupus, these cells used mostly glucose, a type of simple sugar, for energy metabolism. This seems to be critical in causing inflammation in the immune system and the tissue destruction that result from the disease. When the researchers blocked glucose metabolism by using the common type 2 diabetes drug metformin and a glucose inhibitor, the CD4 T-cells returned to normal activity and the symptoms of lupus were reversed.
The studies involved a number of mouse models of the disease and the key experimental findings were also observed in human CD4 T-cells from lupus patients.
The research team initially got the idea of using a two-pronged attack on lupus after seeing a similar approach succeed in cancer research, said Laurence Morel, Ph.D, director of experimental pathology and a professor of pathology, immunology and laboratory medicine in the UF College of Medicine.
“If it works to limit metabolism of cancer cells, it should work to limit metabolism in T-cells,” Morel said.
The treatment combination is especially effective in reversing lupus symptoms, the study found. It works by simultaneously preventing a T-cell from using glucose while also slowing the cell’s own metabolism, Morel said.
“If the T-cell is normal, the disease gets better,” she said.
Lupus affects more than 5 million people worldwide, and more than 16,000 new cases are diagnosed in the United States each year, according to the Lupus Foundation of America.
Lupus has no cure, and the Lupus Foundation says some scientists believe the disease arises from a combination of genetics, hormones and environmental factors.
Doctors around the world sometimes have to search for the right combination of medications to control lupus. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has a short list of medicines, including steroids, aspirin and anti-malarial drugs, which can help control lupus symptoms.
The approach found by Morel and the other researchers goes beyond just controlling symptoms. Lupus-afflicted mice that were treated continuously for one to three months closely resembled those that did not have the disease, Morel said. The drug metformin’s effectiveness in restoring normal function in T-cells when studied in the laboratory also bodes well for its potential future application for treating patients with lupus. “That suggests we can also use metabolic inhibitors to treat patients,” Morel said. “It’s the first time that it has been shown that you can have an effect on lupus symptoms and manifestation by normalizing cellular metabolism.”

The study is also significant for its breakthrough in “drug repurposing,” Morel said. Using an existing diabetes medication like metformin to treat lupus is relatively cost-effective and the drug is already known to be safe for humans. New treatments that use an existing medication can also go to clinical trials more quickly because there are fewer FDA regulatory hurdles. 
Next, Morel said, researchers will continue their efforts in two directions. One involves screening additional inhibitors targeting other metabolic pathways as well as studying patients who have been treated with metabolic inhibitors. The other involves searching for a deeper understanding of the molecular pathways that make metformin work.
Among the other UF researchers who worked on the project are Eric S. Sobel, M.D., Ph.D, an associate professor of rheumatology and clinical immunology; Byron P. Croker, M.D., Ph.D, a professor of renal and surgical pathology and UF’s primary renal pathologist; and Todd Brusko, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the UF Diabetes Institute from the department of pathology, immunology and laboratory medicine.
Their research was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Alliance for Lupus Research.
About the Author

Doug Bennett’s picture

Doug Bennett

Science Writer, Editor

Doug Bennett joined the UF Health staff in January 2015 as a science writer and editor. His topic areas include anatomy; biochemistry and molecular biology; molecular genetics and microbiology; pathology,…Read More

Best Lupus Blogs of 2015!

I am humbled to announce that has made list for Best Lupus Blogs for the second year in a row.

When I initially started writing I did it to help people to not feel alone in their journey. I quickly realized I wanted to not only help but INSPIRE. I have had the most beautiful journey since. Thank you to for seeing this and helping my vision come true by giving me a bigger platform to reach.

Check out the list here Best Lupus Blogs 2015

With love and humility,

Undefeated Diva


New Medicine Research!

AstraZeneca lupus drug produces positive results in trial
LONDON | Mon Nov 17, 2014 7:02am EST

LONDON (Reuters) – An experimental lupus drug from AstraZeneca significantly improved the symptoms of lupus in a mid-stage clinical trial, boosting prospects for a medicine the company believes could become a major seller.

Only one new drug — GlaxoSmithKline’s Benlysta — has been introduced for lupus in half a century, underlining the difficulties of tackling the disease that causes the immune system to attack joints and organs.

AstraZeneca’s sifalimumab works in a different way to Benlysta by targeting interferon, a protein involved in inflammation.

In a Phase IIb study, details of which will be presented at the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) annual meeting, sifalimumab improved symptoms at all doses. However, there was an increase in patients reporting Herpes zoster, particularly at the highest dose.

Sifalimumab is one of two drugs for lupus being developed by AstraZeneca’s biotech unit MedImmune. The other is anifrolumab, which blocks interferon more comprehensively. Early data, also being presented at the ACR meeting, suggests this second drug may be more effective.

Bing Yao, head of respiratory, inflammatory and autoimmune medicine at MedImmune, said the company would decide which of the two drugs to take into final-stage Phase III trials after getting Phase IIb results on anifrolumab next year.

In May, AstraZeneca predicted the lupus medicines could eventually generate annual sales of around $1 billion. It made the forecast as part of a long-term sales projection in its defense against an unsuccessful $118 billion takeover bid by Pfizer.

AstraZeneca will give a further update on its new drugs at an investor day on Nov. 18, just eight days before Pfizer is allowed to make a new bid under British takeover rules.

(Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Mark Potter)

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Getting to know the new me…

Sometimes it’s the journey that teaches you a lot about your destination.

I have searched for the eject button on the recent path of my journey, to no avail. In the years since my diagnosis I have done what I always do, plow through, head held high, never looking back. As of late that methodology has not been as comforting. Life’s lemons are still sitting on my porch waiting to be made into it’s potent beverage. I have stared at them not quite understanding what to do with them, as my normal kick ass, straight forward approach has had me coming up drained and in the same place. Stagnant and drained are pretty substantial words to describe my current state of being. I have pondered and scoured for an answer to the “why” and it wasn’t until several days ago that I found the answer.

Let me be clear, my friendship with my chronic illnesses is nothing new. We are several years in and I thought that I had gotten a nice hold on them. What I wasn’t ready to admit to myself or the world around me was that, I no longer knew who I saw in the mirror. She looked familiar, she sounded familiar, but all in all not the same person. Really, it should have come as no surprise to me but it surly was. As I was in my beautiful world of deep cleaning and ridiculously loud music this week, the answer to the why was so very clear.

I no longer knew myself.

For someone that knew who she was and where she was going in life at a ridiculously young age this was a catastrophic blow. It all made sense though. The feeling of being lost and alone even when I was surrounded by the people that loved me most. The feeling of unease and uncertainty when I had the best support system someone could ask for. It all made perfect sense. When all you know is this semblance of a person that handles life with a vigorous fire that can never be snuffed, then you find yourself confused and depleted from life’s lemonade, you can’t help but feel shaken down. Right now, in my life I am getting a shake down. One day I woke up and I was in another body that had unimaginable pains, unclear thoughts from what could only be described as a foggy state, and a back bone that no longer stood straight. Who was this person? How did this happen?

Getting diagnosed wasn’t the hard part, reacquainting myself… well, with myself has been the most excruciating experience. Trying to do this while living life on life’s terms, well now your asking for too much. Having to work, be a wife, a daughter, and fuck it a productive member of society… All the while trying to understand what happened to you… Now that’s a damn epic mission. Nevertheless, I realized it and all of the missing pieces came together. I hadn’t realized that it was going to be a grieving process or even a process period. The vibrant woman was now a slower moving version of who she used to be. A more jaded and fatigued version of who she used to be. The woman that looks back at me in the mirror is tired, depleted, and honestly a little angry… Not the old me that was the fire spitting free spirit with endless energy. Can I place all of the blame on chronic illnesses? Well sure I can but that’s not who I am. I take responsibility for my actions and my part in the situation. I could have done more about my illnesses. I could have done some more soul searching. In the end, I won’t look back at what I could have done, to me thats a waste of perfectly good brain cells that I should preserve for days that the brain fog sets in.

So where do I go from here I asked myself. Well to the beach of course! So I find myself at the beach, searching for answers to questions I thought I already had the answers to. I am searching for answers and way to steer this new way of life for me. To figure out how to still be that firecracker powerhouse that is determined to teach the world all the while possessing a body that does not match the soul.

What I have come to realize in all of this is, this is normal guys. I am no different than anyone going through any struggle. It is real, it is normal, and it is going to be O.K. Now I just need to find sticky notes to help with the brain fog and some great heels!

Until Next Time.



Undefeated Diva!

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Technology and social media have brought power back to the people.
Mark McKinnon

Good Morning World and Happy Friday!

I hope that all of you are having a wonderful morning, noon, or night. I have been asked by a couple of my blog family members if I was on any social media and I was except for Facebook, that is until now. If you ask you shall receive:

One of my blog family made a fantastic point, it is much easier to communicate via FB with anyone then it is to do so through my blog. So if you have some time come on over and show your support!

Thank you all for your support of my writing and my journey!

Much love on this Friday,
Undefeated Diva

The moments that keep me humble…

Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real.
Thomas Merton 

This quote strikes several cords in my psyche, but today I will stick to humility. Anyone who knows me knows I like sticking to the real and truly foundational side of who I am. I may have a beautiful home, a new car, and what looks like expensive taste. In the end those things are just that… THINGS. It is no secret I fight a daily struggle with my body that at times debilitates me in the most simplest forms. 

Take for instance, and the true inspiration behind my blog today. This morning I woke up with a serious case of FUCKING Lupus swelling. (The word Fucking before every time I say the word Lupus is necessary today) Needless to say my hands and joints were swollen. Mornings like this are normal for me and often they range in severity. Today was a moderately swollen day, so much so I could barely hold my toothbrush to clean my mouth. Regardless of my pain I got my ass moving and got dressed to go to work. I tried to do my hair which ended in a twist and clip, and I didn’t wear make up because to hold the brush to put my make up on was excruciating. Then came sneaker time… Well I looked at my feet and for just a moment wished I could wear flip flops to work. With a deep breath and a slightly deflated ego (more disappointed than deflated) I went and woke up my other half and I asked him for help tying my sneakers. Shooting open his eyes and looking dead at me with the understanding it was a rough one, he jumped up to help without hesitation. THEN made me coffee in my easy to use coffee cup. (I have a coffee cup for rough FUCKING Lupus swelling days such as today). 

Most people would look at me and NEVER in a million years think I was “sick”, well to me I am not “sick”… Sick is for the flu, upper respiratory infection, or questionable stomach bug you get once a year when you eat bad TURKEY (inside joke). Me, what I am dealing with is not an illness its a FUCKING war! It’s a war I fight daily, hourly, or some day’s by freaking minutes. It’s a war that I refuse to allow to take over… but on mornings like this morning… I told myself it was ok to ask for help. Those of you out there that know me personally, know that asking for help is NOT easy for me. Actually if I am being honest with myself, asking for help is the hardest thing for me to do. I used to feel as though asking for help showed a vulnerability or weakness that I rarely showed to ANYONE let alone someone outside of my immediate circle. I have learned though that it is OK to ask for help, that in fact it is not weakness… but STRENGTH. I have also learned that TRUE and REAL loved ones will never look at you in disgust or with distaste when asking for help. In the end if someone looks at you and thinks your weak for it or judges you for asking for help then the problem is them, not you.

In the moment where he looked at me with acknowledgement of my pain and disappointment he got on his knees and tied my shoes always making sure that he was not causing any added pain. In the very same moment I was struck with a humility that would have rivaled Buddha himself. I was struck with an overwhelming gratitude and humility that someone would not question the reasoning behind my need but would get down and do something as simple as tying my shoes. 

So often we take the very simplest of actions for granted. We don’t realize there is someone out there struggling to do something as simple as picking up a toothbrush or wiping their backside. It’s so easy to take for granted what you don’t realize is a true GIFT. So humble yourselves ladies and gents… Humble yourself that you just grabbed a drink and didn’t drop it because of extreme limb weakness. Humble yourself that you just stood up without feeling like your legs were being burned or stabbed… ABOVE ALL, humble yourself that you right now can breath without ANY medical intervention… 

If you decide not to humble yourself… trust me Karma will… 🙂


To another day and another moment


Undefeated Diva