A new experimental drug holds promise for Lupus treatment

A new experimental drug, Benlysta, being developed by Human Genome Sciences holds promise as a treatment for Lupus.

Nearly 1.5 million Americans suffer from the autoimmune disorder that can cause chronic joint pain, fatigue, even organ damage.

Lupus strikes women more than men and can be confounding to treat because it often impacts 50 people in 50 different ways.

The last drug approved for the treatment of Lupus by the FDA was in the 1950s.

"There wasn't any research for Lupus just because it was considered a rare disease and therefore it wouldn't be of financial benefit to commercial sponsors to test drugs," says Dr Ellen Ginzler, Chief of Rheumatology, Suny Downstate Medical Center.

Benlysta is now giving new hopes to doctors and patients alike.

"It is an antibody to one of the proteins that regulates inflammation. It is an antibody to something called B cell lymphocyte stimulator (BLyS)," explains Ginzler.

BLyS is a naturally occurring protein which is normally involved in the survival of antibody producing B cells. When present in excess it can lead to the development of autoimmune diseases like lupus, where the body's immune system starts to attack its own tissues and organs.

According to Human Genome Sciences, a recent study involving 850 patients found half of the patients on Benlysta experience a reduction in their symptoms, including fatigue, joint pain and skin rashes.

A lot of questions about the experimental treatment remain to be answered warns Lupus specialist Tammy Otset of UC Medical Center.

"It's not a magic bullet. It's not going to cure Lupus but hopefully it will be something better in our armor."

Hopes are running high that Benlysta will become first FDA-approved treatment for lupus in 50 years.

Source : www.sawfnews.com

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