Lupus is an autoimmune disorder, meaning that the body’s own immune system can harm healthy cells and tissues. This disorder can affect many body parts, including the joints, skin, kidneys, heart, blood vessels, lungs, and brain. Lupus patients can experience periods of wellness (remissions) and periods of active disease (flares). Permanent organ damage may result from both flares and the side effects of treatments. The causes of lupus are unknown.

The Michigan Medicine Lupus Program is dedicated to learning more about what causes lupus, how flares can be reduced or prevented, how to predict disease progression and activity, and how to prevent permanent organ damage. Finding new prevention and treatment strategies is dependent on learning more about the development of and risk factors for lupus.

Basic Research

The Michigan Medicine Lupus Program has a strong program in basic science research. Areas of research include:

  • Identifying genetic and epigenetic abnormalities in lupus patients that predispose them to the disease.
  • T cell abnormalities in lupus.
  • Abnormal cell death and the development of lupus.
  • Abnormalities in the interactions of different cells of the immune system that might predispose lupus patients to the disease.
  • Mechanisms by which lupus patients develop accelerated heart disease.
  • Mechanisms of kidney damage in lupus.
  • Role of dendritic cells and neutrophils in lupus.
  • Abnormal signal transduction in lupus cells.

Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are a type of research study design to test new treatments or diagnostic tests in those affected by a specific disease or condition. They help achieve a better understanding of the disease that is being investigated and determine the effectiveness and safety of new treatments.

Our group actively participates in different clinical trials giving our patients the opportunity to receive promising new treatments or participate in new diagnostic procedures. Participation is completely voluntary.

Ongoing Clinical Trials

A randomized trial for patients with stable systemic lupus who may be eligible to withdraw CellCept (MMF/mycophenolate mofetil) from their treatment regimen currently enrolling
The purpose of this study is to describe the effect of withdrawal from MMF on risk of clinically significant disease reactivation in quiescent SLE patients who have been on long-term MMF therapy.  View study on the UM Health Research Website.

SABLE - Safety and Effectiveness of Belimumab in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Registry - currently enrolling
The purpose of this registry is to collect additional information regarding the side effects and effectiveness of BENLYSTA (belimumab) when given with other lupus medicines to adults with active systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Information will be collected on serious events that are not that common or may only be seen with long-term treatment. These events include death, cancers, serious infections and other infections of interest, and serious mental health problems. Information on the effectiveness of BENLYSTA will also be collected.

Phase 2 Study of Baricitinib in Patients with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) - not enrolling currently
Clinical research studies have shown that baricitinib is useful in treating other autoimmune diseases involving the joints, skin, and kidneys. This research study is hoping to learn if this drug could also help to improve symptoms in people with lupus.

Lupus Clinical Trials Consortium (LCTC) Lupus Data Registry - not enrolling currently
The purpose of this registry is to study presentation, clinical course, treatment patterns, and outcomes in patients with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE). 

Past Clinical Trials