Northwestern Medicine discovers possible lupus cure

It's one of the most common autoimmune diseases, and now, a key mystery has been solved that could pave the way to a cure.

Doctors said this is very exciting news, and they are cautiously optimistic this could be a pathway for not only curing but reversing the effects of lupus. 

Researchers at Northwestern Medicine and Brigham and Women's Hospital said they have discovered a root cause of lupus.

It's an autoimmune disease that affects more than 1.5 million people. Until now, the cause was unclear.

A new study published Wednesday outlines a clear pathway for how the disease likely develops.

It points to specific abnormalities in the immune system and a chemical imbalance.

Jaehyuk Choi, a dermatologist at Northwestern Medicine, said until now, lupus has been treated by using immunosuppressant drugs, which can have some pretty harsh side effects because they can diminish the immune system, impacting the organs.

A new treatment would involve specifically targeting only the cells that are causing lupus. But the new treatments could go even further by reprogramming the cells so they no longer cause lupus.

Even though this appears to be a breakthrough, doctors still need to undergo clinical trials. And it could take some time.

But they are feeling optimistic the majority of lupus patients would benefit from these newer targeted treatments.