A Novel Target and Compound for Treating Lupus Nephritis
Glick, Gary D., PhD
University of Michigan
As part of efforts to find better therapies for lupus, Dr. Glick’s laboratory screened a series of compounds to look for those that would specifically kill immune cells involved in lupus. These studies led to the discovery of a new compound, known as Bz-423, that is effective at treating kidney disease (nephritis) in two mouse models of human lupus. Unlike current lupus drugs, Bz-423 suppressed the autoimmune response in mice with lupus-like disease without adverse side effects. Subsequent studies showed how this compound kills cells and identified its cellular target. Although Bz-423 is effective, it has certain chemical properties that would make it difficult to use in humans. Therefore, the goal of Dr. Glick’s project is to design and synthesize compounds chemically related to Bz-423 that have optimized properties for human testing.
What this study means for people with lupus: Current therapies for lupus nephritis kill healthy cells along with those that cause disease. Developing chemically modified forms of Bz-423 that have improved properties for human use and retain their effectiveness would provide potential new drugs specific for lupus. After further testing, the most promising of these drug candidates could be evaluated in clinical trials in people with lupus.