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New lupus drug to be tested

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The possibility of the first new drug to be approved in decades for the treatment of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) has been announced by Human Genome Sciences (HGS) and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

They report that a Bliss-52 trial of Benlysta (belimumab, formerly LymphoStat-B) has demonstrated a significant improvement in patient response compared with standard care alone.

Says HGS boss H Thomas Watkins: “The results demonstrate that Benlysta has the potential to become the first new approved drug in decades for people living with systemic lupus.

“Given the limited treatment options currently available, patients would benefit greatly from potential new treatments.

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“Assuming positive results in November, we and GSK plan to submit marketing applications in the US, Europe and other regions in the first half of 2010.”

Belimumab is the first of a new class of drugs known as BLyS-specific inhibitors, and is being developed by HGS and GSK under a deal signed in August 2006. No new drug for lupus has been approved for more than 50 years.

Copyright Press Association 2009

Benlysta






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