In a Major Breakthrough, SUNY Downstate Doctors Identify New Pathway to Treat Seizures Caused by Lupus

By Office of Communications & Marketing | Oct 24, 2022

New Research Into Neuropsychiatric Lupus Identifies Possible BC RNA Treatments To Reduce Frequency Of Seizures

Brooklyn, NY – SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University announced the publication of new research by Dr. Henri Tiedge, including potential new treatments to substantially reduce the risk of seizures for patients diagnosed with neuropsychiatric lupus.

In a new paper published in Life Science Alliance, “Autoimmune RNA Dysregulation And Seizures: Therapeutic Prospects In Neuropsychiatric Lupus,” Dr. Tiedge and colleagues report success in preventing seizures caused by neuropsychiatric lupus autoantibodies, through the innovative complexing of such antibodies with brain cytoplasmic (BC) RNA structures. This groundbreaking research offers a potential path toward treatment for patients with lupus, allowing their care team to prevent future seizures.

 “The published findings are a tremendous step forward in the advancement of care for patients with neuropsychiatric lupus. We appreciate being featured in Life Science Alliance with this critical work, which has the potential to transform the lives of lupus patients across the country,” said Henri Tiedge, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Physiology and Pharmacology, Neurology, and Medicine at Downstate.

In neuropsychiatric lupus, the nervous system is affected, causing patients to often suffer from seizures and cognitive impairment. Treatment of neuropsychiatric lupus has mostly remained empirical and may consist of anti-inflammatory, immunosuppressive or anti-seizure regimens. However, these unspecific approaches may cause potentially severe side effects.

The new findings from Dr. Tiedge and his team show that often, these patients suffer from seizures due to anti-BC RNA autoantibodies. Through the experiments conducted at SUNY Downstate, Dr. Tiedge and his colleagues found that “decoy compounds” –BC RNA structures synthesized in the laboratory – can minimize this risk of seizures. Rather than suppressing the immune system in general, this kind of lupus treatment will benefit the patient by being specifically directed at disease-causing autoantibodies.

The contributors at SUNY Downstate are Ilham A. Muslimov, Valerio Berardi, Stacy Stephenson, Ellen M. Ginzler, and Henri Tiedge. In addition, at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Center and Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, John G. Hanly was a contributor.

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Contact: Dawn S. Walker
917.439.9666 | 347.533.2071

About SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University

SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University is the borough's only academic medical center for health education, research, and patient care. It is a 342-bed facility serving the healthcare needs of New York City and Brooklyn's 2.6 million residents. University Hospital at Downstate (UHD) is Downstate's teaching hospital, backed by an outstanding medical school's expertise and world-class academic center research facilities. More than 800 physicians, representing 53 specialties and subspecialties—many of them ranked as tops in their fields—comprise Downstate's staff.

In addition to high-risk neonatal and infant services, pediatric nephrology, and dialysis (kidney diseases)—and offering the only kidney transplantation program in Brooklyn, among many other distinctive programs—Downstate also sponsors a major learning center for young children with developmental disorders and disabilities. In addition to UHD, Downstate comprises a College of Medicine, College of Nursing, School of Health Professions, a School of Graduate Studies, a School of Public Health, and a multifaceted biotechnology initiative, including the Downstate Biotechnology Incubator and BioBAT for early-stage and more mature companies, respectively. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter at @sunydownstate.