June 25, 2010

Jenny's Updates from 9th International Lupus Congress - Day 1

Jenny Palter, editor of Lupus Now Magazine, will be blogging about her experiences at the 9th International Lupus Congress in Vancouver, Canada.

My day in Vancouver at the International Lupus Congress began with registration - 1,200 registrants are expected! Most are lupus researchers and physicians, but also 200 folks who live with lupus (and caregivers, because sometimes it takes a team to help a person live with lupus, doesn't it?!). There are delegates from lupus groups in Canada, Denmark, France, Indonesia, the Republic of Mauritius, the Philippines, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the USA. Wow!

The opening session of the Lupus Patient Congress included a panel discussion, moderated by LFA Medical Director Joan Merrill, MD, about drugs in development for lupus: belimumab (Benlysta) from Human Genome Sciences; micophenolate mofetil (CellCept) from Vifor; atacicept from EMD Serono; sifalimumab from MedImmune; abatacept from Bristol-Myers Squibb; and epratuzumab from UCB. The presentations were followed by a Q&A period. Audience members asked excellent questions, such as: "What is causing B cells to become overactive?" "Why isn't neuropsychiatric lupus included in the studies?" "Is belimumab steroid-sparing?" and "When will a treatment be developed to treat fatigue?"

At the Welcome Reception we were treated to a performance by members of the Salish Nation of Native Peoples, who have lived in the Vancouver area for 10,000 years. A highlight of the evening was when a traditional hand-carved Talking Stick was presented to Congress Chair John Esdaille. The carvings of the eagle, for insight, the raven, for communication, and the wolf, for lupus, together described the purpose of the Lupus Congress.

The perfect ending to the first day was seeing the darkening sky above the Bay streaked with pink as I made my way back to my hotel room. First, this blog entry. Then, to bed - the Walk for Lupus is at 6 a.m., and it's a full day after that!

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