Study Shows Need for Greater Awareness of Biologics for Lupus
Study Shows Need for Greater Awareness of Biologics for Lupus

August 19, 2019

A new study led by Dr. S. Sam Lim of Emory University found a need for more awareness of biologic therapies among both black and white people with lupus.  Biologics are medicines that come from living cells to prevent, treat and cure human diseases, and are designed to have specific effects on the immune system. Dr. Lim is a member of the Steering Committee of our affiliate, Lupus Therapeutics, which was formed to accelerate the development.

The study aimed to look at any differences between blacks and whites in their perception of biologics. Results showed that only 30.8 percent of all surveyed had heard of biologics. But significantly more whites (53.4 percent) knew of biologics compared to 25.2 percent of blacks. About half of all those who had heard of biologics knew about their potential benefits or side effects.  Most were neutral in their view of biologics as risky or dangerous.

But there was no significant difference between blacks and whites on having used them; 7.6 percent of blacks versus 11.5 percent of whites had ever taken a biologic.  In thinking about whether they would take a biologic, more blacks (62.8 percent) would rather receive it intravenously over injection compared with 37.5 percent of whites.

Study investigators concluded: “There are opportunities to increase patient exposure to information about biologics and improve their understanding in order for them to make the best informed decision possible.”

The Lupus Research Alliance has funded much research in biologics as potential treatments for lupus.  Some of our early work led to the development of Benlysta® (belimumab), the first biologic for lupus. Currently our affiliate Lupus Therapeutics is partnering with Janssen to conduct a late-stage Phase 3 clinical trial on another biologic, ustekinumab (Stelara®) for lupus. Stelara is already approved by the FDA for certain other autoimmune diseases. The LRA had originally identified Stelara as having possible benefit for lupus and asked Janssen to consider testing it for this indication.  RSLV-132 is another biologic that Lupus Therapeutics is partnering to test with Resolve Therapeutics.  In addition, Lupus Therapeutics is working with Takeda Pharmaceutical Company to test the biologic TAK-079 as a potential lupus treatment.

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