Blog entry by Meguid El Nahas
The paper in the Lancet (2011;377, 721) by Navarra et al. reports the outcome of a large, phase 3, clinical trial on the use of Belimumab (a human monoclonal antibody that blocks BLyS (B-lymphocyte stimulator) activity. Increased activity of B lymphocytes and their products including BLyS are known to be increased in active SLE. This trial shows that blocking BLyS activity through infusion of Belimumab (1m/kg or 10 mg/kg) for up to 48 weeks, along with standard care, leads to decreased SLE activity indices. Belimumab at 10mg/kg proved significantly more effective than standard care alone. Clearly Belimumab, which has recently been approved by the FDA for the treatment of SLE, will add a new therapeutic option to those currently available including Rituximab (anti-CD20) that also acts on B lymphocytes and their depletion (Rituximab treatment for vasculitis. Jayne D. Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2010 Aug;5(8):1359-62).