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After A Half Century Of Work, Medicine For Lupus May Be Near.

June 8, 2010

The autoimmune disease lupus has bedeviled drugmakers for a half century, but some are now poised to break through.

Human Genome Sciences Inc. and GlaxoSmithKline PLC are set to seek regulatory approval for a drug they developed, Benlysta, which could be the first new lupus medicine in over 50 years. A few venture-backed companies aim to follow closely behind.

They include Anthera Pharmaceuticals Inc., which went public in March after raising capital from VantagePoint Venture Partners, Sofinnova Ventures and others, and Neovacs S.A., which went public in April after drawing support from firms such as Novartis Venture Fund.

In lupus the immune system attacks a patient’s own tissue, causing inflammation, pain and other symptoms. The disease, which affects 1.5 million Americans, according to the Lupus Foundation of America, tends to flare up and then recede into periods of remission. Its complexity has frustrated drug companies, but the success of Benlysta, which analysts peg as a potential blockbuster, is reviving hopes.

“There’s definitely renewed interest in the investment community in lupus,” said Brian Skorney, an analyst with ThinkEquity LLC. “There is a lot of money to be made if you’re able to get an effective therapy through the FDA

Doctors now prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids, and other medicines for lupus, but Benlysta is expected to be the first therapy developed specifically for the disease to reach market. HGS and GSK representatives were not immediately available for comment, but in late April they said they expected to file for approval in the U.S. and Europe this quarter.

The drug, which targets systemic lupus, inhibits B-lymphocyte stimulator, or BLyS, a protein that B-lymphocytes need to survive and mature into antibody-producing B cells. In lupus, elevated BLyS levels appear to contribute to the production of autoantibodies which destroy healthy tissue. Research indicates that BLyS antagonists, such as Benlysta, can reduce autoantibody levels, according to Human Genome Sciences.

Read the Full Article Here

Source The Wall Street Journal


After A Half Century Of Work, Medicine For Lupus May Be Near.

June 8, 2010

The autoimmune disease lupus has bedeviled drugmakers for a half century, but some are now poised to break through.

Human Genome Sciences Inc. and GlaxoSmithKline PLC are set to seek regulatory approval for a drug they developed, Benlysta, which could be the first new lupus medicine in over 50 years. A few venture-backed companies aim to follow closely behind.

They include Anthera Pharmaceuticals Inc., which went public in March after raising capital from VantagePoint Venture Partners, Sofinnova Ventures and others, and Neovacs S.A., which went public in April after drawing support from firms such as Novartis Venture Fund.

In lupus the immune system attacks a patient’s own tissue, causing inflammation, pain and other symptoms. The disease, which affects 1.5 million Americans, according to the Lupus Foundation of America, tends to flare up and then recede into periods of remission. Its complexity has frustrated drug companies, but the success of Benlysta, which analysts peg as a potential blockbuster, is reviving hopes.

“There’s definitely renewed interest in the investment community in lupus,” said Brian Skorney, an analyst with ThinkEquity LLC. “There is a lot of money to be made if you’re able to get an effective therapy through the FDA

Doctors now prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids, and other medicines for lupus, but Benlysta is expected to be the first therapy developed specifically for the disease to reach market. HGS and GSK representatives were not immediately available for comment, but in late April they said they expected to file for approval in the U.S. and Europe this quarter.

The drug, which targets systemic lupus, inhibits B-lymphocyte stimulator, or BLyS, a protein that B-lymphocytes need to survive and mature into antibody-producing B cells. In lupus, elevated BLyS levels appear to contribute to the production of autoantibodies which destroy healthy tissue. Research indicates that BLyS antagonists, such as Benlysta, can reduce autoantibody levels, according to Human Genome Sciences.

Read the Full Article Here

Source The Wall Street Journal



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