First Lupus Nephritis Drug Approved
In December of 2020, lupus research attained another major milestone-one which stemmed from a critical investigation funded by our organization. Now, with the FDA’s approval, belimumab (Benlysta®) can be used as a therapeutic for lupus nephritis.
“An effective treatment developed specifically for lupus nephritis has been desperately needed,” commented Lupus Research Alliance President and CEO Kenneth M. Farber. “We are particularly proud
to see this approval as the LRA funded much of the original research that led to the drug’s development.”
As a relatively new organization in 2001, we funded the pioneering B cell investigation of William Stohl, MD, PhD which sparked interest in this line of inquiry and eventually led to the development of Benlysta®. At the time, it became the first new lupus drug to be approved by the FDA in more than 50 years.
To say that the LRA is a catalyst for future discovery is an understatement. In the arena of lupus research, it is widely accepted that each and every LRA-funded scientific investigation is, in one way or another, the springboard for further breakthroughs.
The LRA has not only laid the foundation for virtually all of the potential lupus treatments Dr. William Stohl in development – many LRA-identified targets are currently being tested through our own clinical arm Lupus Therapeutics and its Lupus Clinical Investigators Network. Working alongside major pharmaceutical companies like Bristol Myers Squibb, Merck/EMD Serano and Lilly, eight of our trials are in the works.
Because COVID-19 prohibited our 2020 collaborative meeting from occurring, we hosted our Forum for Discovery virtually. One hundred fifty scientist from across the globe joined the event to share their investigations and spark ideas. Of particular note was a discussion on the relationship between gut micobiome and lupus-and area of inquiry that the LRA has explored as an avenue for novel treatment approaches for the past several years.
New Grant Mechanism Rolls Out
Since its inception, the LRA has been a major proponent for collaboration within the lupus scientific community—and our new grant mechanism, Global Team Science Award (GTSA) takes the benefit of working together to a new level.
GTSA allows greater teamwork to occur by attracting the world’s best minds in science, analytics, technology and computational medicine. The award will provide up to $3 million over three years—the largest research grants we have ever awarded.