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MAximizing Sle ThERapeutic PotentiaL by Application of Novel and Stratified approaches



Identifying predictors of response to drugs in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients.

The MASTERPLANS project (2015-2021), led by Professor Ian Bruce, identified groups of patients that respond well or less well to particular drugs.

We analysed a range of datasets and biological samples and brought information from many sources together to produce formulae (algorithms) that can predict response better than in current standard of care.

Following future research to validate our results, the ultimate aim is that care for SLE patients can be improved by putting them on the right drug, sooner.


£ 4.6m+

Funded by the Medical Research Council and LUPUS UK


Algorithms predicting response to rituximab, belimumab and mycophenolate


Sub-projects and 30 early career researchers



Our findings

See the latest publications and findings from the MASTERPLANS project.


All of our publications can be found on the University’s Research Explorer.

Patient involvement resources

Resources for future SLE studies

The PLANS study, a sub-project of MASTERPLANS, was an exemplar of how to collect multiple biological samples for several distant project partners.

Download standard operating procedures for:

PLANS closed prematurely because of recruitment difficulties, an issue that causes many lupus studies to close early. We conducted a lessons learnt review:


Patient and public involvement

MASTERPLANS is an exemplar of good patient and public involvement (PPI) practice in a large multi-disciplinary basic science project.

Our very active PPI group was embedded throughout MASTERPLANS, contributing to:

  • the grant application process;
  • PPI planning;
  • project planning and oversight through committee membership;
  • design of the PLANS study and research governance;
  • commenting on emerging results including the algorithms;
  • communications to the patient community;
  • evaluation of the impact of PPI in MASTERPLANS.

For more information, see our PPI resources linked in the section above.

Three purple butterflies.

“The participation of patients in clinical trials and studies has led to some amazing breakthroughs in the treatment of serious illnesses. Involvement in research can be very rewarding, educational and, from my experience, can give you a sense of purpose and control at a time when you feel very helpless. Lupus is a devastating and cruel disease and we are in desperate need of faster, more effective treatments not only for ourselves but for future generations. Research is vital in giving us a better chance of beating it.”

Patient collaborator / MASTERPLANS


Partners and collaborators

Ten academic and ten industry partners worked in collaboration with 18 patients and carers on the project.

  • The University of Manchester
    • Centre for Epidemiology
    • Health eResearch Centre
    • Health Economics
  • University of Bath
  • University of Birmingham
  • University of Cambridge
  • MRC Biostatistics Unit, Cambridge
  • Imperial College London
  • King’s College London
  • University of Liverpool
  • University of Leeds
  • University College London
  • Aeirtec Limited
  • Aurinia Pharmaceuticals Inc.
  • Epistem Limited
  • Genentech, Inc.
  • GlaxoSmithKline plc
  • Imagen Therapeutics Ltd.
  • Medimmune Limited
  • Myriad RBM, Inc.
  • Pfizer Limited
  • UCB Pharma S.A.
Patient collaborators

18 lupus patients and carers made up the MASTERPLANS patient and public involvement group.

Professor Ian Bruce

“MASTERPLANS brought together clinical academics, researchers, industry and patients from across the lupus community, working towards a common goal of improving the lives of lupus patients. This has built a legacy of collaboration to support further lupus research in future years.”

Professor Ian Bruce / Principal Investigator, The University of Manchester


Contact us

Get in touch if you have any questions.


Centre for Epidemiology Versus Arthritis
Second floor, Stopford Building
The University of Manchester
Oxford Road
M13 9PT

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