The criteria are not, she and Dr. Bermas stressed, intended to be used for diagnostic purposes.
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“The best outcome of the classification criteria system is the accurate classification of SLE patients about whom we want to perform studies; for example, looking for risk factors for SLE, or outcomes, or response to medications,” Dr. Tedeschi says. “We want to make sure we are using a group of study subjects with SLE who really have the disease so we can feel confident in the conclusions drawn from those studies.”
The challenge remains, however, to determine just what those criteria may be. After phase 3 is complete, the weighted and ranked consensus criteria will be subject to a validation process by which the criteria will be applied against known patient cases.
“It’s hard to classify an individual as having lupus because it’s a bit like going to a buffet lunch where everyone chooses different food items; at the end, people’s plates can look different,” says Dr. Bermas. “It’s not like everyone is either salad or chicken. But that’s the nature of the disease.”
Kelly April Tyrrell writes about health, science and health policy. She lives in Madison, Wis.
- Tedeschi SK, Johnson SR, Boumpas D, et al. Developing and refining new candidate criteria for systemic lupus erythematosus classification: An international collaboration. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2018 Apr;70(4):571–581.