UCB announced that data presented today show that epratuzumab treatment demonstrated clinically meaningful improvements in moderate and severe flaring systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients. The data were from the first placebo-controlled studies using epratuzumab in SLE patients and were presented at the annual European Congress of Rheumatology (EULAR).
The clinical studies presented at EULAR showed that flaring SLE patients treated with epratuzumab experienced reduced disease activity and were less reliant on the use of steroids to control the disease than those receiving placebo. The incidence of adverse events was similar for the epratuzumab and placebo groups.
“These initial clinical results for epratuzumab are very encouraging,” commented lead study author Dr Michelle Petri, Director, Lupus Center and Professor of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, USA.
“Developing new compounds for SLE patients is critical because currently available treatments, such as immunosuppressants and corticosteroids, often have serious and debilitating side-effects. We look forward to seeing results from other clinical trials involving epratuzumab.”
Epratuzumab is a fully-humanised anti-CD22 compound with the potential to modulate B-cell activity.
Although the exact function of CD22 is not fully understood, it is known to be involved in B-cell development, function and survival. B-cells are known to contribute to SLE by producing antibodies against the body’s own tissues, causing the body’s immune system to turn on itself, attacking cells and tissue and resulting in inflammation and tissue damage.
UCB has initiated a new phase IIb clincal study programme for epratuzumab, which consists of two studies. The primary objective of the phase IIb programme is to assess the dose response and the dose frequency for epratuzumab.