Long Island Researcher`s Clinical Trial Targets Lupus Pain

By | January 3, 2017

Dr. Cynthia Aranow, a medical investigator at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research has been working closely with Dr. Kevin Tracey of the Feinstein Institute on a possible major breakthrough in lupus pain research. Dr. Aranow, is a long-time board member of the Lupus Alliance of LIQ and a staunch supporter of the LALIQ`s programs and research efforts.

The LALIQ is very excited about this new lupus research here in our own community. These wonderful advancements will help those struggling with the debilitating disease of lupus on Long Island as well as worldwide. The LALIQ is proud to work with the Feinstein Institute; donating to this critical research as part of our mission to serve Long Island and Queens.

The Feinstein Institute collaborates with the LALIQ throughout the year by supporting our educational programs, symposiums and sponsoring our events, like our legacy Walk-Along for Lupus, now in its 24th year. We look forward to working with them on important lupus research advances today and in the future.

We congratulate Dr. Kevin Tracey and Dr. Cynthia Aranow on their fine work in the field of lupus research.


Dr. Kevin Tracey of The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in Manhasset, shown in his lab on July 7, 2016, holds a device that delivers neurostimulatory impulses and can be used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. This year his team will conduct a clinical trial to research whether the approach alleviates the pain caused by lupus.

A team of Long Island doctors is embarking on a clinical trial this year that will ask a compelling question: Can a tiny bioelectronic implant banish pain caused by lupus, a debilitating, inflammatory disorder that largely affects women?

Dr. Cynthia Aranow, a medical investigator at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, disclosed the upcoming trial during a recent round table discussion at the Manhasset facility.

Using an implanted device, “we will be stimulating lupus patients who have musculoskeletal pain,” said Aranow, who works in the institute’s Center for Autoimmune and Musculoskeletal Disorders. The implant will be connected to a key nerve that runs through the neck — the vagus — and will deliver minuscule doses of electricity at programmed intervals.

Doctors have not decided on the trial’s start date. But they are certain that when it comes to treatment of complex inflammatory disorders, it is time to rethink the need for drugs.

The lupus-focused research is the latest test based on groundbreaking discoveries by Dr. Kevin Tracey, the institute’s president and pioneer of a paradigm-shifting field of treatment: bioelectronic medicine.

Tracey posits that treatment with minute pulses of electricity can control pain and eliminate the need for pharmaceuticals. An investigation of patients with rheumatoid arthritis has confirmed his theory.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s administration is so convinced that Tracey and his Feinstein team are on a breakthrough track that it pledged $50 million to the institute last year to support bioelectronic research.

“After 18 years, the time for this idea has finally arrived,” Tracey said in a recent interview.

General Electric, which has a medical electronics division, is in talks with him and his Feinstein colleagues on potential projects, Tracey confirmed, as are several other corporations whose names he would not disclose.

Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline in August 2013 announced its investment in SetPoint Medical, a California company co-founded by Tracey that develops implantable neurostimulating devices. Tracey also has lured bright minds in science and engineering to Feinstein, including Chad Bouton, who was on the Ohio team that created a brain implant enabling a paralyzed man to use his thoughts to move his fingers and play a guitar.

The lupus trial marks the first U.S. clinical investigation of bioelectronic medicine for an inflammatory disease.

Lupus, is an incurable autoimmune condition caused when a patient’s immune system becomes a turncoat, launching an inflammatory attack. A characteristic “butterfly rash” often develops on patients’ faces. Excruciating muscle and joint pain are a hallmark of the disorder, as are attacks on internal organs and blood vessels. Some patients require a kidney transplant.

Women develop lupus at a 9-to-1 ratio compared with men and usually are diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 45, although the disorder can occur in childhood or late in life. Lupus afflicts about 1.5 million people nationwide.

“It affects a population at a very productive time in their lives,” Aranow said, referring to the majority of patients. However, she said, “I’ve seen it in babies and I have diagnosed it in an 82-year-old.”

For reasons not understood, African-Americans, Latinos and Asians are more likely to be affected by lupus than Caucasians, but the condition is widely diagnosed worldwide in all people and in both women and men.

The upcoming trial will address only patients’ muscle and bone pain, Aranow said. Click here to read the entire article in Newsday.

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