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Researchers at Hospital Clinic have played a crucial role in improving lupus treatment

Research carried out by the Autoimmune Diseases Service (SEA) has contributed to improving the treatment and quality of life of lupus patients through international collaborations.

The Autoimmune Diseases Service at Hospital Clinic in Barcelona, active since 1995, was set up to provide specialist care and do research into different autoimmune diseases, including lupus.

Throughout this time the scientific team has contributed with many projects, reflected by more than 500 original articles published in scientific journals, including the New England Journal of Medicine and The Lancet.

One of the service’s major milestones was the creation of the international "CAPS Registry". This provides information on the best treatment for patients with an extremely serious syndrome associated with lupus, antiphospholipid syndrome, which involves multiple blood clots. Dosing sufferers with a combination of three drugs has decreased the mortality of these patients by 40%.

After 55 years of research, the first specific drug for severe active lupus has also been developed, thanks to several coordinated studies carried out by researchers across the globe. This drug is the first biological therapy that targets a specific molecule in the immune system.

In addition, the SEA has contributed to not only improving lupus treatment, but also therapies for its complications. Thanks to studies carried out in the SEA Pregnancy Control Unit, it was observed that taking an infant aspirin each day before the beginning of pregnancy reduced the risk of miscarriage in women with this disease by 60%. With regard to the kidney damage associated with lupus, the European research group "Euro-lupus” (co-directed by the SEA) has introduced new guidelines for treating this complication. These are based on a less-aggressive immunosuppressive therapy that is as efficient as the previous treatments, but has fewer side effects.

The contributions made by this team, in collaboration with specialists from around the world, has enabled significant progress to be made in understanding the causes, clinical characteristics and the best ways to treat this disease. Thanks to its enormous interest in research, the SEA is a benchmark in the treatment of autoimmune diseases and, in particular, lupus.