Chinese researchers make breakthrough in lupus diagnosis

Updated: 2018-01-10

Chinese researchers have developed a new testing method for the diagnosis of lupus, which could improve the accuracy rate to over 90 percent.

The new method uses DNA methylation detection to find lupus-specific information in genes, the first time researchers are able to elevate the diagnosis of lupus to the genetic level, according to Lu Qianjin, a professor with Central South University,Changsha.

Lupus, technically known as systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE, is an autoimmune disorder that can damage the joints, kidneys, heart, lungs, brain and blood. It affects 1 million Chinese, and 40 to 70 of every 100,000 people worldwide.

"Early symptoms of lupus are often too general to be distinguishable, making accurate diagnosis difficult and depriving patients of timely treatment," Lu said. "The new method can accurately discriminate lupus from other dermatoses, with an accuracy rate of above 90 percent."

The breakthrough, made by Lu and his team after 20 years of research, was awarded on Dec 8 at the National Science and Technology Award Conference in Beijing.

The new testing method has been adopted by 23 hospitals in China, Lu said, adding that he had applied for patents for the technique both at home and abroad in hopes of benefiting more patients.

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