‘Systematic Lupus erythematosus’ (SLE), commonly known to the public simply as ‘lupus’, is an incurable but mostly treatable condition where the body’s tissues are attacked by its own immune system. Initial symptoms include feeling extremely tired, rashes -mostly on the wrists, hands and face, and joint pain. Some people have long periods of remission between these symptoms. Unfortunately, flare-ups tend to happen without any warning.

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SLE is more common in people from African, Caribbean or Asian backgrounds, and women aged between puberty and menopause.

Lupus nephritis

Around 60% of patients with (SLE) develop lupus nephritis, a condition which at best reduces kidney function, and at worst leads to complete kidney failure. Huge progress is being made in the efforts to treat lupus nephritis with a new drug.

New hope on the horizon

Currently treated with steroids and drugs to suppress the immune system, the emergence of a new drug, which can possibly replace these, is very exciting news. Aurinia Pharmaceuticals Inc. has developed a new immunosuppressant drug known as Voclosporin, which is about to enter the third stage of clinical trials. If approved, it will be the first FDA-approved drug targeting this life threatening condition.

Chances of success

Before a drug is released for use by the general public, it must get through several stages of testing, often organised by a company offering clinical trial services, such as http://www.gandlscientific.com/clinical-trial-services/. At each stage, the drug is administered to larger groups of people, who are monitored closely to determine possible reactions and side effects. Reaching stage 3 is a positive indicator of future success. Lupus itself is notoriously difficult to develop new drug treatments for, as symptoms are not generally experienced uniformly between patients. However, improvement in lupus nephritis can be actively measured.

What the third stage involves

Around 320 patients diagnosed with lupus nephritis will participate, some of them being given the test drug, and others a placebo. The testing is due to start mid-2017, and will last for 52 weeks. At that point, tests will investigate renal responses and provide data indicating the success level of the new drug.

SLE patients and their families around the world will be hoping for a positive result from the upcoming drug trials, and will be thankful for the medical advances that have made it possible.