Belimumab is in clinical development for the treatment of adults with active lupus nephritis (LN) who are uncontrolled on current standard of care. LN is a complication affecting kidney function brought on by systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), a chronic autoimmune, inflammatory disease that affects different organs. Around a third of people suffering with SLE will develop LN. The kidney damage seen in LN occurs due to a person’s immune cells (B Cells) attacking their own kidneys which causes inflammation and affects overall kidney function. Current treatment involves suppression of the immune system and management of symptoms, but it is not always effective. If left untreated, LN can lead to kidney failure which requires dialysis or a kidney transplant.
Belimumab is a monoclonal antibody which binds to a soluble B cell survival factor known as BLyS, thereby stopping the growth and activity of B cells. It is given by intravenous infusion and is intended to be added on to current standard of care therapies. Belimumab is currently approved as an add-on therapy for adult patients with SLE in the EU/UK and if licensed for LN, will offer a new targeted therapy that is able to treat patients who cannot tolerate the side effects related to the current standard of care.
Anifrolumab is a drug designed to specifically block type I IFN signalling by binding to part of the type I IFN receptor and therefore preventing activity of all IFNs that are involved in the inflammatory pathway. If licensed, anifrolumab will offer an add-on treatment option for patients with moderately to severely active SLE.