The effects of BLyS are specifically targeted by a new drug called Belimumab (Benlysta). It is the first drug to be approved by the European Medicines Agency to treat lupus in more than 50 years. The research will help doctors identify patients that are most likely to benefit from the drug as not all patients may respond to the treatment.
Professor Caroline Jefferies, Associate Professor in Molecular and Cellular Therapeutics (MCT), RCSI and principal investigator of the study, commented, ‘Lupus is a very complex disease and one of the biggest challenges, currently, is identifying the patients who are most likely to benefit from new drugs as they are approved. Our research suggests that simply measuring BLyS levels in patients may identify those who will best respond to Belimumab, thus improving the long-term outcomes for these patients.’
This research, recently published in Rheumatology, has been carried out by Dr. Eoghan McCarthy, under the supervision of Prof Caroline Jefferies, in conjunction with the rheumatology departments of Beaumont Hospital and St. James’s Hospital, Dublin.
Belimumab is used to treat lupus patients who don’t respond to usual medication comprising of a combination of steroids and immunosuppressive anti-inflammatory drugs, both of which have side effects following long-term use.
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