After a decade of advocating research about the impact of lupus on military service, the Lupus Foundation of America recently announced the creation of a research program at the U.S. Defense Department, made possible by a $5 million endowment authorized by Congress this year.
Lupus occurs when the body’s immune system confuses healthy tissue with viruses, bacteria and germs, and mistakenly attacks the skin, joints and internal organs, according to the Lupus Foundation’s website. The foundation estimates 1.5 million people suffer from the disease, with 16,000 new diagnoses annually.
The new Defense Department program will concentrate research dollars toward areas of maximum impact such as investigating whether biomarkers can predict the illness, according to a foundation press release.
The announcement culminates a decade of support and collaboration between the foundation and the Department of Defense. Foundation staff have testified before Congress about lupus and established the Congressional Lupus Caucus to spearhead funding for the project. So far, 20 lupus studies have been conducted through the existing Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program and the Defense Department.
The foundation said in the announcement that it hopes to double congressional funding next year.