Voclosporin is in clinical development for the treatment of lupus nephritis (LN). LN is a complication of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) which is a chronic autoimmune disease. LN is related with an increased risk of premature death and sufferers can experience symptoms such as high blood pressure, bloody urine, proteinuria and inflammation/scarring of the kidneys as confirmed through a kidney biopsy. If untreated, LN causes permanent renal damage which may lead to end-stage renal disease (ESRD) and subsequent dialysis or kidney transplant. Current therapies have low effectiveness in preventing ESRD and have non-favourable side-effects so additional therapies are required.
Voclosporin, administered orally, is a novel protein inhibitor that prevents the binding of calcineurin which is a protein involved in the immune response. By binding, immune cells cannot be activated which reduces the immune response and stabilises cells in the kidney. If licensed, voclosporin in combination with immunosuppressants will offer an additional treatment aimed to improve the outcomes of LN patients.