What is lupus?
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), or lupus for short, is a severe, incurable and debilitating multisystem autoimmune disease. Lupus patients simultaneously or sequentially suffer irreversible immune-mediated inflammatory damage in the brain, kidneys, heart, central nervous system, lungs, joints, skin, blood and other organs.
Unlike other inflammatory diseases such as vasculitis, lupus impacts severely on quality of life and significantly reduces life expectancy; the standardised mortality rate is greater than three.
YouTube video (2.37min). Prof Eric Morand talks about living with lupus and the impact of our research
Who's at risk?
Lupus is the most common autoimmune disease; affecting at least 5 million people worldwide and 1 in 2000 people in Australia. It's diagnosed predominantly in young women - 90 per cent of whom develop the disease between the ages of 15-44. A woman diagnosed at age 20 has an almost 10 per cent chance of death before reaching 40.
Lupus has an extremely high prevalence and severity in Indigenous Australians and Asians, making it a major health concern for the Australian medical community.
A need for improved lupus treatments
Although there is no effective specific treatment for SLE - the majority of patients diagnosed with SLE today are still treated with antimalarials, cytotoxic immunosuppressants and, in around 70 per cent of cases, glucocorticoids - the majority of patients can benefit from treatment and enjoy their lives.
Despite combination therapy with current drugs, many studies show that the majority of patients suffer inadequate disease control and may develop signs of organ damage over time. Current immunosuppressive therapies come with increased risk of infection, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and other complications. The morbidity associated with these complications highlights the urgent and currently unmet need for safer more effective therapies for lupus.
Lupus research and clinical trials
Monash is leading the way in the research and treatment of lupus in Australia. Our researchers are clinician-scientists - a typical day at work might see them in the lab conducting research, teaching medical students face-to-face or online, and seeing patients in our clinics.
Uncovering and developing new lupus treatments and conducting clinical trials is a key focus of our lupus research.
Find out more about our research.
Recommended lupus resources
For more information we recommend these resources:
Lupus Research Alliance (LRA) is one of our funding bodies. Prof Eric Morand, Head of Rheumatology group is a winner of LRA Distinguished Innovator Award. See Prof Morand's research portfolio for further information.
The Monash Lupus Clinic
The Monash Lupus Clinic at Monash Health was founded in a unique collaboration between the Rheumatology and Nephrology units of Monash Health. It is now Australia's largest lupus-specific clinic, and has the most extensive serum databank in Australia; with samples dating back to its 2006 foundation. Care is provided by a multidisciplinary team of specialists, aiming to provide the highest possible standards of clinical care in a research-informed environment.
Clinic head - A/Prof Alberta Hoi
Dr Alberta Hoi is a lupus and arthritis clinician-scientist. Along with holding the position of Head of the Monash Lupus Clinic, Dr Hoi is also a chief investigator in the Rheumatology Research Group.
Find out more about A/Prof Alberta Hoi.
The largest lupus databank in Australia
With patients' consent and approval by local research ethics committees, longitudinal, prospectively-gathered clinical data is collected at the Monash Lupus Clinic, now forming the largest database of clinical information on SLE in Australia. Data is linked to a large biobank of serum, DNA, and other samples, allowing the study of relationships between newly discovered molecules and disease manifestations in SLE.
The sheer size of our databank benefits both patients and researchers. If you're a researcher or academic we encourage you to contact us for access to this invaluable resource.
The Australian Lupus Registry is designed as a colloboration between centres and institutes around Australia to improve treatment and outcomes for people suffering from lupus.
Visit our clinic
You'll find us at Monash Medical Centre, Clayton, Clinic A and we're open every Tuesday 1.30pm to 5.00pm. Please call 1300 3 iCARE (1300 342 273) to make an appointment.
A referral is required to make an appointment with the Monash Lupus Clinic. Your general practitioner (GP), specialist, or Monash Health can issue your referral. Unfortunately we cannot see you without a referral. Clinics appointments are bulk-billed as per current Medicare arrangements.
Donate to lupus research
The Kim Jolly Lupus Research Fund
In 2007 Kim Jolly, daughter of Christine and Rob Jolly, passed away due to complications associated with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE); the world's most common, incurable and debilitating multisystem autoimmune/chronic inflammatory disease.
In honour of Kim's memory, the Kim Jolly Lupus Research Fund was created to support and accelerate research into finding better treatments for Australians living with lupus, and ultimately finding a cure.
Make a secure, tax-deductible donation (for contributions of $2 and above) to the Kim Jolly Lupus Research Fund today. Your generous donation will be used in furthering research to treat and cure this debilitating and all too often deadly disease.