Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New drug approved for treating most common type of lupus

Date:
March 28, 2011
Source:
Scripps Research Institute
Summary:
A new drug -- Benlysta (belimumab) -- has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. Benlysta, which treats the most common type of lupus, is the first in a new class of pharmaceuticals that prevents the body from attacking its own critical tissues.

Scientific advances at The Scripps Research Institute were key to laying the foundation for the new drug Benlysta® (belimumab), has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Benlysta®, which treats the most common type of lupus, is the first in a new class of pharmaceuticals that prevents the body from attacking its own critical tissues.

"I am deeply gratified that our scientific findings have proven so valuable to drug discovery," said Richard A. Lerner, MD, president of Scripps Research. "This development underlines the importance of basic academic science in laying important groundwork for life-saving medical advances."

Benlysta®, developed by GlaxoSmithKline and Human Genome Sciences, is the first new drug treatment for lupus in 50 years.

Short-Circuiting the Cycle of Lupus

Benlysta® was approved for systemic lupus erythematosus, a chronic, life-threatening inflammatory disease affecting the joints, skin, kidneys, blood, heart, and lungs. It is often simply referred to as "lupus" (although there are other types of lupus, including one that affects solely the skin). Estimates of the number of Americans affected by sytemic lupus erythematosus range from 161,000 to 1.5 million, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Lupus can occur at any age, but first appears largely in 15- to 40-year-olds, the majority of whom are women.

Lupus is an autoimmune disease, which occurs when a person's body produces an immune response against its own tissues instead of solely attacking foreign invaders such as viruses, bacteria, and other toxins.

Symptoms can include debilitating fatigue, painful and swollen joints, fever, skin rash, and kidney problems. The disease can also lead to arthritis, kidney failure, heart and lung inflammation, central nervous system abnormalities, inflammation of the blood vessels, and blood disorders.

Benlysta® (itself a type of immune molecule) acts by targeting a specific protein called B-lymphocyte stimulator, or BLyS, involved in stimulating the "autoantibodies" causing lupus and certain other autoimmune disorders.

Benlysta® is the first approved drug that disables BLyS, thus preventing the immune system's destructive attacks against the body.

The Foundation

In the 1980s the therapeutic potential of antibodies -- which recognize a wide range of foreign pathogens, then alert the immune system to the presence of the invaders -- was widely recognized, as they are an important part of the body's natural system for fighting illness. But tapping that potential had proven difficult. Researchers at the time were working mainly with short snippets of antibodies and testing their effects through a slow and painstaking petri-dish process.

But Lerner led a Scripps Research team that made two critical advances to transform the field, ultimately leading to the discovery and development of drugs such as Benlysta®.

The researchers first developed a method of combining different pieces of antibodies isolated from human or animal cells into proteins long enough to encompass natural antibodies' most critical portions -- the parts actually binding to and neutralizing infectious agents or otherwise unwanted material. The scientists dubbed this technique "repertoire cloning," because it allowed them to build libraries of compounds that encompassed the full repertoire of a natural immune system.

This was a game-changing development.

Eliminating the Petri-Dish Bottleneck

But even with an expansive repertoire, putting it to use was a separate problem. It was a second key Scripps Research discovery that helped eliminate the petri-dish bottleneck.

In 1991, Lerner and his colleagues pioneered a technique for employing phage display to facilitate large "combinatorial antibody libraries" to find human antibodies that could be used therapeutically.

Combinatorial antibody libraries allow human antibodies to be identified directly by searching among billions of antibody variants taken from human blood samples to find those that bind to a particular target -- such as BLyS -- involved in a particular disease.

In this technique, the scientists hijack the inner workings of phages (viruses that attack bacteria). By inserting genetic sequences encoding active portions of antibodies, the researchers are able to make phages displaying on their surfaces the antibody of interest. These antibody-displaying phage particles can then be tested en masse for their ability to bind to molecules of interest. Successful binders can then be purified and identified as a target for additional research.

With the British Medical Research Council (MRC) Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Scripps Research licensed the inventions to Cambridge Antibody Technology (now part of AstraZeneca) to facilitate exploitation of the technology for creation of new medicines. In 1999, Cambridge Antibody Technology partnered with Human Genome Sciences, which entered into a co-development and commercialization agreement with GlaxoSmithKline in 2006.

While much technology has changed over the decades, variations of combinatorial antibody libraries are still a mainstay of drug discovery research. Commercialized throughout the 1990s, the promise of this method is now beginning to be realized -- today with Benlysta®, tomorrow, Lerner predicts, with other life-saving drugs.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Scripps Research Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Scripps Research Institute. "New drug approved for treating most common type of lupus." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 March 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110310093758.htm>.
Scripps Research Institute. (2011, March 28). New drug approved for treating most common type of lupus. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110310093758.htm
Scripps Research Institute. "New drug approved for treating most common type of lupus." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110310093758.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law

Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law

AP (July 22, 2014) — Two federal appeals courts issued conflicting rulings Tuesday on the legality of the federally-run healthcare exchange that operates in 36 states. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Newsy (July 22, 2014) — The new sci-fi thriller "Lucy" is making people question whether we really use all our brainpower. But, as scientists have insisted for years, we do. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Find New Way To Make Human Platelets

Scientists Find New Way To Make Human Platelets

Newsy (July 22, 2014) — Boston scientists have discovered a new way to create fully functioning human platelets using a bioreactor and human stem cells. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

TheStreet (July 21, 2014) — New research shows Gilead Science's drug Sovaldi helps in curing hepatitis C in those who suffer from HIV. In a medical study, the combination of Gilead's Hep C drug with anti-viral drug Ribavirin cured 76% of HIV-positive patients suffering from the most common hepatitis C strain. Hepatitis C and related complications have been a top cause of death in HIV-positive patients. Typical medication used to treat the disease, including interferon proteins, tended to react badly with HIV drugs. However, Sovaldi's %1,000-a-pill price tag could limit the number of patients able to access the treatment. TheStreet's Keris Lahiff reports from New York. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins