OKLAHOMA CITY - Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation labs hold the key to very important research on lupus.
"To see if we can figure out a mechanism or pathway that could eventually be targeted by therapy or treatment," Dr. Patrick Gaffney, a scientist at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation said.
Dr. Gaffney started working at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation 12 years ago.
He just received a $3.1 million grant that will help study what causes lupus and even possibly prevent it.
"It's not so much the genes themselves but it's all of the other parts of the genome that regulate those genes. tell those genes to turn on and when to turn off,” Dr. Gaffney said.
OMRF scientists know certain genes are associated with lupus, but this grant will go toward understanding why they're associated.
"And we're going to do it in a very specific cell type called B lymphocytes. These are specific cells in your blood that produce antibodies and fight infections and they're really important in lupus.
Lupus is an autoimmune disease that can cause extreme fatigue, rashes, joint pain and in more serious cases can damage organs. It's typically not fatal...but there is no cure.
It also affects more women than men. Researchers don't know why but there are theories.
"There's been this focus on female hormones that may trigger or be that stimulus to trigger it," Dr. Gaffney said.
Other theories involve having two X chromosomes and bacteria in the gut.
"These genes we know are associated with lupus let's try to understand why they're associated."