WHAT IS IT?
Voclosporin is an immunosuppressant and investigational drug that was originally developed in British Columbia by the scientists at Aurinia Pharmaceuticals. Voclosporin has a dual mechanism that, in theory, has the potential to help with near and long-term outcomes in patients with lupus nephritis when added to standard medication protocols.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
The immune system is the body’s natural defense against outside invaders and infectious organisms. Through a series of steps, the immune system attacks foreign organisms by sending cells that attack and kill the invader cells, and send chemical messages to other nearby cells to stop the “offense.” This is what leads to what’s called the inflammatory process.
With lupus and other autoimmune diseases, the immune system starts recognizing the body’s own proteins as foreign invaders and potential threats, sending the immune system into “hyperdrive.” The immune response can lead to inflammation, and subsequently, damage to tissues and organs. When inflammation occurs in the kidneys, the outcome is a condition called lupus nephritis.
Lupus nephritis is one of the most serious disease complications of SLE, and can occur in 50-60% of patients with the disease. The treatments currently available for lupus nephritis include strong corticosteroids, anti-rejection medications, and toxic immunosuppressants. Those that do not tolerate these treatments, often have to endure dialysis. For patients and doctors alike, this is simply not enough. “For the last several years the community of lupus researchers in collaboration with the pharmaceutical industry have been engaged in finding more effective therapies for LN, but success has been difficult to achieve,” said Brad Rovin, MD, FASN, Director of Nephrology and Vice Chairman of Research for the Department of Internal Medicine at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
This led to the develop of voclosporin. Voclosporin was designed to prevent kidney inflammation by inhibiting a specific protein that activates immune T-cells against the kidneys. By reducing the amount of chemical messengers traveling through an organ, voclosporin decreases inflammation in the kidneys and can halt further damage from occurring.
In a 2016 study, a total of 32.6% of individuals with active lupus nephritis that were given low-dose voclosporin along with standard-of-care LN treatment achieved COMPLETE remission in 24 weeks (protein/creatinine ratio of 0.5 mg or less as well as normal renal function and GFR). High-dose also had significantly higher rates of partial remission at week 24 (69.7%) compared to placebo. "These preliminary results show great promise and could potentially change the current treatment paradigm for lupus nephritis," said chief investigator Mary Anne Dooley, MD, a rheumatologist in Chapel Hill, N.C. "The remission rates show a meaningful improvement over the current standard of care."
Besides the benefits voclosporin may provide to those living with LN, it can also be helpful with treating another lupus overlap condition, noninfectious autoimmune uveitis, as well as, skin conditions like psoriasis.
The most common side effects noted in clinical trial were gastrointestinal issues and an increased risk of infection.
For more information, click on the full Aurinia Pharmaceutical press release here.
The first patients have been accepted into the AURORA 2 extension study from the Phase III clinical trial for lupus nephritis. The purpose of the study is to watch and document the long-term safety and tolerability of voclosporin in patients with lupus nephritis.
MTL will keep you updated on any news regarding this new treatment!
**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 morethanlupus.com. This includes materials protected by copyright, trademark, or patent laws. Copyright, More Than Lupus, 2018.