My STEAM project is on the autoimmune disease Systemic Lupus Erythemastosus, commonly referred to as lupus. This disease attacks organs and tissues thinking they are invaders of the body. Genetics play into a person being diagnosed with lupus, and it being common in women who are of childbearing age, elevated estrogen has been found to be the cause of this. Some environmental factors play into this also, one of those is the sun. The UV ray’s trigger a cell to die, apoptosis, leaving apoptic bodies or dead cell pieces in the body. Due to genetics a person with lupus isn’t able to clear out these dead tissues causing b cells to create antinuclear antibodies creating antigen antibody complexes. It’s these complexes that can bring about common symptoms of lupus like inflammation or flare ups. The complexes are in the blood vessels and embed themselves into tissues and organs throughout the body, no organ or tissue is safe from this. As for the most common organ affected by lupus the kidneys tend to be most affected but in comparison to the whole body it’s not by much. Diagnosing lupus is complex and can in some cases take years. The criteria are that a person must be showing signs of at least four of the 11 common symptoms. Symptoms are malar rash on the face, discoid rash, photosensitivity, oral ulcers, serositis, renal disorder, neurologic disorder, hematologic disorder, immunologic disorder, arthritis, presence of antinuclear antibodies (ANA). There is no cure for lupus at this time, and there still is a lot of things we don’t know about lupus. The goal for someone with lupus is to maintain it with antimalarial drugs, steroids, immunosuppressive, and a healthy diet.
The pictures I’ve included represent what a person with lupus might feel. The white wolf shadows represent arthritis in the joints, while the black wolf shadows represent skin flare ups that commonly get mistaken for cellulitis. The red marks on the dolls face represent the malar rash. While the black shadow behind it represents a wolf. Lupus is latin for wolf and although the outside doesn’t look bad, and the symptoms seem minor, I wanted the wolf to represent the hidden suffering people with lupus go through. Lupus diminishes quality of life due to symptoms even for people who are taking meds and live a healthy life style. If left untreated lupus results in death.