Belimumab in combination with rituximab for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)

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Therapeutic Areas: Immunology , Nephrology
Year: 2021

Belimumab in combination with a cycle of rituximab is in clinical development for adults with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE). SLE is an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues and organs. Patients will often have periods where their symptoms flare-up and periods where their symptoms settle down. Mild SLE can cause joint problems and tiredness, whereas severe cases can be life threatening. Currently, conventional SLE treatments, such as corticosteroids and immunosuppressants, are known to have issues with efficacy and long-term toxicity. Belimumab is a protein that works by reducing the activity of a type of white blood cell called B-cells that produce the antibodies. Belimumab is given by monthly intravenous (into vein) infusions or weekly subcutaneous (into skin) injection and is intended to be added on to current standard of care therapies. Rituximab binds specifically to a protein called CD20 located on pre-B and mature B lymphocytes inducing death of these cells, it is given intravenously. If licenced belimumab in combination with a cycle of rituximab could provide an additional treatment option for adults with SLE.