There hasn’t been any new drug approved for treatment of the disease in the past 50 years. But that may soon change. Researchers have recently completed Phase III trials of a drug called, BENLYSTA™ (belimumab).
BENLYSTA is a human monoclonal antibody that’s given intravenously. It blocks the activity of B-lymphocyte stimulator (BLyS®), a chemical that appears to contribute to the production of the destructive antibodies.
Daniel Wallace, M.D., Rheumatologist in West Hollywood, CA explains that by blocking the action of this chemical, the drug tones down inflammation. In the phase III trialc, ompared to participants receiving a placebo, those getting BENLYSTA were more likely to have an improvement in overall symptoms and better quality of life.
Wallace says about half of the BENLYSTA participants were able to stop taking steroids and some were able to discontinue immune suppressing medications. No major side effects were seen from the drug.
BENLYSTA is specifically designed for patients with SLE. The manufacturer has submitted an approval application to the FDA. Researchers are hopeful it will be available by the end of 2010.
For information about the drug, BENLYSTA™ (belimumab), go here .