, Volume 3, Issue 12, pp 7-10

Lightening the Lupus Load

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Executive summary

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disorder that mainly affects women and is characterized by chronic inflammation. A range of clinical symptoms is associated with SLE, some life-threatening and all of which substantially reduce quality of life. Although management of SLE has improved over the past few decades, this is not due to improved pharmacotherapy as no new drugs for SLE have been approved by the US FDA in over 30 years. Indeed, an unmet need for safer and more effective therapies than the anti-inflammatories and immunosuppressants currently employed is driving new drug development.

Most clinical investigations are focused on targeting specific immune-mediated pathways important in pathogenesis of SLE. Compounds targeting B cells are popular, with pivotal phase III clinical trials ongoing of Rituxan® (rituximab) from Genentech and Roche, epratazumab from Immunomedics and Riquent® (abetimus) from La Jolla Pharmaceutical. CellCept® (mycophenolate m