Friday, 3 May 2013

Towards a Cure

Professor Carola Vinuesa and Team
John Curtin School of Medical Research
You know my heroes are people who are mostly anonymous, working away in labs, trying to find a cure for lupus.

Over on the right, you can see one of these amazing teams of heroes.

This is Professor Carola Vinuesa and her Humoral Immunity and Autoimmunity team at Australian National University's John Curtin School of Medical Research.

They discovered a gene, roquin, which is central to autoimmune diseases. It controls the quality of the antibodies produced by the body's immune system. A mutation in roquin allows rogue antibodies that attack the self - autoimmune diseases.

Further work has led the team to find how roquin works with other DNA.

The discovery led to Professor Vinuesa winning the 2008 Science Minister's Prize for Life Scientist of the year.

In accepting the award, Professor Vinuesa said: "We lead much healthier and longer lives today than 50 years ago due to a dramatic improvement in health care and overall wealth. That is why it is hard to understand why the incidence of autoimmune diseases keeps steadily increasing, affecting around one in eight Australians.

"Despite intensive research, no cure has yet been found, and treatments still rely on drugs that dampen the whole immune system and can cause serious long-term side effects."

The discovery of roquin is a step towards treatment that will affect only the malfunctioning part of the immune system, possibly even towards a cure.

A suggestion:

10 May is World Lupus Day.

Whatever you're doing on the day, whoever you're with, take a container with you.  Get everyone to empty out their pockets. Collect everyone's loose change (notes, too if they're willing to part with them).  Very soon, I'm going to get a link for which will allow you to donate directly to lupus research at the John Curtin School of Medical Research. (And you know what to do with your container of money then.)

Want to know more about Professor Vinuesa and her team?

2008 Science Minister's Prize for Life Scientist of the Year.  ttps://

Australian National University John Curtin School of Medical Research, Pathogens and Immunity Department, Humoral Immunity & Autoimmunity

For people overseas, who don't know, John Curtin was Australia's 14th Prime Minister.


  1. Wow, thank you Iris for sharing this information! The last time I wrote about lupus, I had mentioned that one of the most disheartening factors related to this autoimmune disease is that there is still much mystery surrounding the onset of lupus in certain individuals. However, the discovery of roquin certainly seems to hold so much promise! I hope that your month has started out well.

  2. thanks so much for your comment on my blog- very informative. I edited my post to include it. I'm still curious as to why how and when the gene gets mutated. Hopefully that will be discovered soon. If we can pin down the cause, we'll really be sitting very close to a proper cure.

    1. I don't care why or how it gets mutated. I just want them to find a way to fix it! (OK, prevention for future generations might be a nice idea too, but my self-interest is invested in a cure here and now.)


Thanks for being part of the conversation.

Your comment will be visible after moderation.