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New Lupus Treatments In The Pipeline

While attending the American College of Rheumatology 2018 meeting, several potential new treatments were highlighted that showed patient benefits during clinical trials.

Below are some of the mentioned new lupus treatments in the pipeline, and as a 28 year lupus survivor, the ones I am most excited about:

Ustekinumab (Stelara®)

Stelara® is already approved by the FDA for the treatment of Crohn’s disease, psoriasis, and psoriatic arthritis, but recently passed a Phase 2 controlled study comparing the monoclonal antibody with placebo among patients with active lupus. Greater improvement was reported with Stelara vs the placebo when given over six months. Even more exciting is that the Phase 3 trial is already underway and being conducted by the Lupus Research Alliance Lupus Clinical Investigators Network (LuCIN) and sponsored by Janssen Research & Development, LLC. For more of what was shared at the ACR, click here.


A recent Phase 2 controlled study in SLE patients showed improvement from treatment with baricitinib compared with placebo. Baricitinib a Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor, is already approved for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis in Japan and Europe. Patients in this double-blind study found significant symptom relief from pain, rashes, and also a decrease in flares. This study is being spearheaded by renowned lupus specialist, Dr. Daniel Wallace at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center/David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and is sponsored by Eli Lilly and Company.


This medication is already approved to treat rheumatoid arthritis, however in a trial conducted in China, scientists compared the use of azathioprine vs. leflunomide, for use in lupus nephritis maintenance therapy. The trial concluded that leflunomide is just as safe and effective as the immunosuppressive medication, azathioprine. Moreover, those on maintenance therapy for two years with leflunomide tended towards less relapses and better overall outcomes. The study was sponsored by RenJi Hospital throughout many sites in China.


Anifrolumab is a monoclonal antibody. Though anifrolumab failed to produce a decrease in disease activity in the Phase 3 trial, the ACR presented another trial that focused on the benefits of anifrolumab on decreasing cardiovascular disease, which is the number one cause of death with lupus patients. The data showed decreased amount of DNA released that can damage blood vessels and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, as well as, improving the body’s ability to rid of excess cholesterol, decreasing blockage in arteries and blood vessels. Conducted through a team including MedImmune; the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; and AstraZeneca.

Abatacept (Orencia®)This medication has already been proven to help with moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis by interfering with the immune activity of T cells. A Phase 3, double-blind study, patients with active proliferative nephritis, showed great improvement in protein levels in the urine, but the medication did not reach the goal of complete response that was hoped for. This trial was conducted at various centers around the world, and was sponsored by Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Low-Dose IL-2 and Rapamycin Low-Dose IL-2 is already FDA approved to treat kidney cancer and melanoma. Now in this published study in China, patients who haven’t responded to other lupus treatments showed a significant decrease in active lupus over a 24 week period. It was also noted that T cells were increased, boosting the regulation of the immune system, while the need for glucocorticoids and immunosuppressants were decreased.

Bioelectronic Medicine Device Ready for an option that is NOT a medication? Well, here you go! Feinstein Institute’s Center for Bioelectronic Medicine developed a bioelectronic medicine device, that significantly reduced pain and fatigue in patients with lupus, according to the pilot clinical trial results at ACR presented by Research Professor Cynthia Aranow, MD at the Feinstein Institute. The device works by stimulating the vagus nerve to reduce inflammation. The vagus nerve is the longest cranial nerve and one of the most complex, responsible for controlling the lungs, as well as, the heart, and digestive tract. This study was sponsored by the John and Marcia Goldman Foundation and Northwell Health.

Article By:

Kelli Roseta

**All resources provided by this blog are for informational purposes only, not to replace the advice of a medical professional. Kelli encourages you to always contact your medical provider with any specific questions or concerns regarding your illness. All intellectual property and content on this site and in this blog is owned by This includes materials protected by copyright, trademark, or patent laws. Copyright, More Than Lupus 2018.


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