New Lupus Rx Gentler on Kidneys

Lupus nephritis patients who received laquinimod plus standard therapy had improvement in kidney function

(RxWiki News) No one knows what exactly causes lupus. Though the disease is not curable, new advances in medicine may improve the quality of life for lupus patients and prevent complications.

Results of a new study suggest that laquinimod, a new medication under development, may be effective in treating kidney problems caused by lupus.

According to the authors, laquinimod worked better at improving kidney function in combination with standard therapy than standard therapy alone.

"Ask your pharmacist about new lupus meds."

The study was conducted by Dr. David Jayne and colleagues from Vasculitis and Lupus Clinic, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge and Teva Pharmaceuticals.

The aim of the study was to determine the safety, tolerability and efficacy of orally administered laquinimod in patients with active lupus nephritis. Nephritis, or kidney inflammation, is a complication of lupus and can eventually lead to kidney failure.  

Laquinimod is a medication being investigated for treatment of lupus. It has not been approved by the FDA yet.

In lupus, the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue. Laquinimod works by modifying the immune system.

This study, a phase IIa clinical trial, included 46 patients with lupus. Oral laquinimod at a dosage of 0.5 mg/day (16 patients) or 1 mg/day (15 patients) was administered to the study group. A comparison group received a blank pill or a placebo (15 patients). Both groups also received standard treatment with other drugs including steroids.

Kidney function was assessed by looking at the rate of filtration by the kidneys and the amount of protein in the urine.

The researchers found that 62.5 percent of the patients who received 0.5 mg/day of laquinimod showed improvement in kidney function compared to 33.3 percent of those who received the placebo pill. The number of adverse events (harmful side effects) was similar among the groups.

Thus, according to the researchers, laquinimod combined with current standard treatment for active lupus nephritis was superior to standard treatment alone in improving kidney function.

A larger clinical trial comparing laquinimod combined with standard therapy to standard therapy alone is being planned to further examine the safety and effectiveness of the new drug.

The results of the study were presented in June during the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) Annual European Congress of Rheumatology in Madrid.

The study was funded by Teva Pharmaceuticals and Active Biotech, both pharmaceutical companies. No disclosures were available.

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Review Date: 
June 17, 2013