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Leading the way to a cure

The Lupus Drug Gold Mine

January 21, 2010

After decades of dead ends scientists find new treatments.
Lupus has puzzled doctors since it was identified in the 1800s. For unknown reasons, the body makes antibodies against itself. Symptoms--ranging from fever to rashes to joint pain to kidney damage--come and go unpredictably. The average lupus patient waits four years and sees three doctors before getting an accurate diagnosis. There have been no new drugs in 50 years.

This dismal situation may be about to change with the first generation of targeted lupus drugs winding their way through human trials. The drugs aim to short-circuit the abnormal antibody activity that drives the disease, without broadly suppressing the immune system the way existing treatments (such as oral steroids) do.
Human Genome Sciences ( HGSI - news - people )' drug belimumab has a big lead. It aced two final-stage trials in lupus patients last year and could reach the market by the end of the year. While not a cure, the drug could help a significant minority of the 1.5 million Americans (mostly women) suffering from systemic lupus erythematosus. Belimumab's global sales could hit $3 billion by 2014, predicts Lazard Capital Markets analyst Terence Flynn.


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Source forbes.com

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