The actress and singer, who made her lupus diagnosis known to the public in 2015 as she explained her singing hiatus, recently gave money to the Keck School of Research of the University of Southern California. The donation acts to kickstart the Selena Gomez Fund for Lupus Research, a financial resource for the school’s pilot research program that focuses specifically on complications caused by the autoimmune disease.
Lupus is a disease that leads to the immune system’s inability to tell the difference between infected body tissue and healthy tissues. This in turn causes the immune system to mistakenly attack healthy tissue as if it were infected tissue, according to the Lupus Research Institute, the New York-based voluntary health organization tasked with the mission of finding better treatment methods and, hopefully, a cure for lupus. This disease leads to potential pain, swelling, and damage to the body. As Gomez has mentioned in the past, depression and anxiety are also side effects of the disease. More than 90% of people diagnosed with lupus are females, and they begin to develop symptoms between the ages of 18 and 44. Although there are various treatments to lessen the severity of lupus symptoms, there is currently no cure.
Gomez began working to raise awareness for lupus and contribute to lupus research after she went public with her own diagnosis. In 2016, she announced that proceeds from each ticket sold to her concerts during her Revival tour would be donated to the Lupus Research Alliance.
According to a statement by the Keck School, the research intends to provide a foundation upon which therapeutic treatments for lupus can be discovered. Expressing her confidence in regards to the new fund and research program, Gomez said in a statement, “I continue to be optimistic about the progress being made in lupus research and am proud to support the promising work at Keck School of Medicine. I am hopeful for the millions of us around the world that may benefit from this.”
Professor of physiology and biophysics at the Keck School Janos Peti-Peterdi, MD, PhD is among the country’s pool of distinguished researchers in the field and will lead the program with his experience and expertise. He and his award-winning interdisciplinary team have already brought innovative research techniques to the field with their groundbreaking work using imaging techniques to better understand the sources of lupus complications. “We are extremely pleased to partner with Selena in her efforts to promote awareness and medical research toward a much-needed cure for lupus,” Peti-Peterdi said in a press release. “Complications from systemic lupus cause serious damage, and we are hopeful that our research, with Selena’s support, will help those affected by this disease lead full, healthy lives.”
With an estimated 1.5 million people in the U.S. and 5 million people worldwide diagnosed with lupus – over ninety percent of whom are women – the drive to find a cure for people living with this chronic illness is more pressing than it’s ever been.
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