Lupus drug with roots in La Jolla gets FDA's approval


City News Service

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday approved the first drug treatment for lupus in 50 years, and the medicine has its roots in La Jolla at The Scripps Research Institute.

The drug called Benlysta helps prevent a body's immune system from attacking its tissues. Rockville, M.D.-based Human Genome Sciences developed the drug, which will be co-marketed by Philadelphia-based GlaxoSmithKline.

Researchers at TSRI helped with a pair of breakthroughs that made the treatment possible, according to Dr. Richard Lerner, the president of the organization.

"I am deeply gratified that our scientific findings have proven so valuable to drug discovery," Lerner said. "This development underlines the importance of basic academic science in laying important groundwork for life-saving medical advances."

Benlysta is aimed at systemic lupus erythematosus, one of several type of lupus.

The chronic, life-threatening inflammatory disease affects joints, skin, kidneys, blood, heart, and lungs.

The U.S Centers for Disease Control estimates anywhere from 161,000 to 1.5 million Americans have that form of lupus, mostly females aged 15-40.

Lupus is an auto-immune disease, occurring when a person's body produces an immune response against its own tissues instead of attacking foreign invaders such as viruses, bacteria, and other toxins.

Symptoms can include debilitating fatigue, painful and swollen joints, fever, skin rash, and kidney problems. The disease can also lead to arthritis, kidney failure, heart and lung inflammation, central nervous system abnormalities, inflammation of the blood vessels and blood disorders.



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