16 posts in the category “Lupus”

What’s new in lupus research + treatments?

Posted 2 weeks ago by

Keeping tabs on the latest info about lupus research is no easy task. So we’ve boiled down some highlights and trends in the world of lupus research and drug development — take a peek.

Rising areas of research

  • Stem cells – Initial studies have shown that mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) — a type of stem cell that lives in bone marrow, umbilical cord blood, and many other tissues — may suppress the inflammation associated with autoimmune disease, including systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). An upcoming phase II clinical trial will take a closer look at the effectiveness and safety of MSC obtained from umbilical cords for the treatment of adults with SLE (check out this PatientsLikeMe guide to clinical trials to learn more about the phases and process for developing new treatments).
  • Gut bacteria – Research has also shown something called gut microbiota dysbiosis or intestinal dysbiosis (an imbalance in the amounts and types of bacteria in the gut) in people with autoimmune diseases like lupus. A small new study published in February 2018, which observed both mice and humans, found that lupus may be linked to an altered and less diverse microbiota (a biological community of bacteria or other organisms) in the gut. The researchers called for more research on lupus and gut health.
  • Biomarkers – SLE disease activity within the body has been difficult to monitor through blood tests because the condition is complex and affects people’s bodies differently. But the researchers behind a new study published in Nature in February 2018 believe they’ve identified two biomarkers (short for “biological markers,” or signs of biological/disease activity) strongly associated with active SLE. The biomarkers are called CIC and IL-6.
  • Cell biology – In 2014, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) launched a new program called the Accelerating Medicines Partnership for Rheumatoid Arthritis and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (AMP RA/SLE) — a public/private partnership aimed at learning more about these conditions and speeding up the development of treatments. Earlier this year, the NIH rolled out the first data set and said it “holds clues for potential research targets that may lead to future treatment options.”

Clinical trial trends

Since the landmark FDA approval of Benlysta (belimumab) in 2011 — the first approved targeted biologic treatment for lupus and the first drug approved for lupus in more than 50 years — researchers have been working on a growing number of potential new treatments. (The FDA approved the first self-injectable form of Benlysta in 2017 for people with SLE; it’s called Benlysta SC, and the “SC” stands for “subcutaneous”.)

Treatments currently “in the pipeline” for possible development aim to offer either improvements on similar existing treatments or new types of treatments altogether. Several of the potential treatments have completed phase II trials and some are now somewhere in the phase III. (Again, check out our clinical trial guide to understand the phases and process.)

Here are some of the treatments in various stages of development…

For SLE:

  • Atacicept – Biopharmaceutical company EMD Serono recently announced positive results of a phase II clinical trial of atacicept — a protein that targets the immune system and appears to reduce flares in people with SLE.
  • Stelara (ustekinumab) – This treatment, marketed by Janssen, already has FDA approval for the treatment of plaque psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis and Crohn’s disease. In late 2017, a phase II clinical trial showed good potential for Stelara as a possible treatment for SLE. Janssen is continuing to study Stelara’s effects on SLE in phase III of the ongoing trial this year.
  • Lupozor (rigerimod) – This potential treatment by ImmuPharma showed mixed results in a phase III trial, so the company is weighing its next steps. The treatment failed to show a significant response rate over the “standard of care” treatment for lupus, but it performed somewhat better than a placebo and had no reports of adverse events. Lupuzor appeared to benefit European patients but not U.S. patients, Lupus News Today reports. The treatment aims to suppress the activation of auto-reactive T-cells — immune cells that attack the body’s own tissues — without affecting healthy immune cells.

For lupus nephritis:

  • Orelvo (voclosporin) – Aurinia Pharmaceuticals is working on developing this potential treatment, which aims to reduce inflammation and stop further damage to the kidneys. After announcing positive phase II trials in 2017, Aurinia launched a phase III trial of voclosporin, which they plan to give the brand name Orelvo.
  • Orencia (abatacept) – This treatment from Bristol-Myers Squibb already has approval for the treatment of adult rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or juvenile idiopathic arthritis. In 2013, a phase II trial of abatacept found that it is well-tolerated by people with lupus nephritis, although it did not meet the specific treatment goals of the study. The drug is currently being studied further in a phase III trial.

For SLE or lupus nephritis

  • Anifrolumab – AstraZeneca is winding down two phase III studies of this potential SLE treatment (both trials are expected to be completed in 2018). Anifrolumab, which is given intravenously, “works in a different way to Benlysta by targeting interferon, a protein involved in inflammation,” Reuters reported, along with promising phase II clinical trial results in 2015. AstraZeneca is also studying anifrolumab as a possible lupus nephritis treatment, with a phase II clinical trial expected to wrap up around 2020.

Full disclosure: PatientsLikeMe has partnered with some of these pharmaceutical companies on research projects. The information shared here is not sponsored content. Questions about our partnerships? At PatientsLikeMe, we’re all about transparency so check out who we’ve worked with here.

Which areas of lupus research are you following most closely? Chime in below or join PatientsLikeMe to talk with others about this topic in our forums.

Share this post on Twitter and help spread the word.

Zoodles! Let’s dish on lupus/food + swap recipes

Posted 3 weeks ago by

If you’re living with lupus, have you found any particular foods that affect you and your condition — for better or worse?

Member Jeanette (JeanetteA6872), a member of the 2018 Team of Advisors who’s living with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), shares which ingredients she tries to include or avoid in her diet, plus three of her favorite recipes (psst—one involves zoodles!).

Food Q&A with Jeanette

Jeanette says she turned to dietary changes when she stopped taking Plaquenil due to severe side effects, including retina damage. “I had nothing to lose — I signed up for Tony Robbins’ Unleash the Power Within [a self-help program] that made me look at myself and my relationship with food differently,” she says. “I started logging my food intake for a few weeks on and off, I noticed how some of my favorite foods were causing me some issues ranging from stomach pains to full inflammation. That’s when I started paying close attention to what my body was telling me and I needed to do something about it.”

Here’s what else she shared with us in a recent Q&A. Everyone is different, so these foods and dietary changes may not affect you and your lupus the same way. Talk with your doctor or a registered dietitian about finding foods that work for you.

Have you noticed any specific ways that your diet or certain foods affect your symptoms?

I didn’t go on any specific diet at first, I started eliminating certain foods like sugar (which was causing major fatigue and pain), garlic (causing major inflammation in my knees), eggplants (fatigue and pain in my feet), bean sprouts (stomachaches) and alfalfa (full inflammation and full flare) — some of the known foods that lupus patients shouldn’t eat [learn more at lupus.org].

Then I noticed how meat was causing me fatigue and I noticed inflammation directly in my knees. I tried giving up red meat for two weeks, and I felt good and noticed a reduction of pain. Then I gave up chicken the following two weeks and felt even better. It was so amazing that I decided to give it up for good. After the first few months without meat, my doctor started noticing my blood work was improving drastically, so she began reducing my medications since I was no longer flaring or feeling pain. After a full year she reduced all of my medications to zero and even stopped my infusion.

I notice that if I eat too many potatoes like French fries, baked potatoes or mashed potatoes, as well as tomatoes, salsa, mushrooms and peppers, ice cream and cheese, I feel a little stiffness, so I know it’s too much. I really try to avoid processed and fried foods in general as I immediately notice stiffness.

I do still eat gluten and dairy products, just not every day. Everything in moderation works best, I’ve noticed. If something bothers me this week, I know not to repeat it.

Are there any foods that you try to eat often?

I don’t eat many of the same foods daily. I drink my shakes, but I like a variety of foods from pastas, salads, homemade cauliflower crust pizza, rice and beans, and I started eating fish again, so that’s more protein. There are meat substitutes like Gardein, Beyond Meat and black bean burgers that make great meals.

With the new eating style, I knew I needed to find some type of supplement for my vitamins and minerals because you get so many different vitamins from animal products and I wasn’t eating the same way as before. I tried Herbal Life, then Shakeology, then Modere, and none agreed with me because I have so many allergies. So I gave Isagenix one last try. It was perfect for me. Wow — my blood work started coming back so good, my doctor asked me what my secret was, since I [also] started working out and feeling even more amazing. I feel as if my life is back.

Do you have a few favorite recipes you’d like to share?

(Click on the links for a printable version of these recipes picked by Jeanette!)

Veggie scramble – This veggie-packed egg dish is scrambled in coconut oil and topped with avocado and tomato

Citrus fish tacos – Lettuce leaves serve as the “tacos” in this tilapia recipe, complete with mango salsa

Creamy zucchini pasta with shrimp – “Zoodles” (julienne-peeled zucchini “noodles”) and an avocado-basil “cream” sauce? Yum!

Which foods do you eat or avoid with your lupus in mind? Please add a comment below or join PatientsLikeMe to chime into this forum discussion!

Share this post on Twitter and help spread the word.