Potential Lupus Treatments Found in 150 Medications for Other Diseases in LRA-Supported Study

Ines Martins, PhD avatar

by Ines Martins, PhD |

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The Lupus Research Alliance, together with the John and Marcia Goldman Foundation, funded a study that led to researchers identifying some 150 medications, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for other diseases, that could be promising treatments for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

The study, published in the journal Lupus, is titled “Drug repositioning in SLE: crowd-sourcing, literature-mining and Big Data analysis.”

Though a comprehensive search of published papers, plus feedback provided through internet crowd-sourcing with the professional lupus community and SLE  patients, researchers identified more than 150 FDA-approved drugs that might be effective for lupus in the study and its crowd-sourcing site, the Lupus Treatment List–SLE Treatment Acceleration Trials (LRxL-STAT). The research effort was led by Dr. Peter Lipsky and Dr. Amrie Grammer of AMPEL BioSolutions.

Its goal was in to find safer and more effective treatments for SLE. As the study reported: “In the past half century, only one new treatment has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).” That lupus-specific treatment, Benlysta (belimumab), was approved by the FDA in 2011.

“Our study shows the benefit of using multiple methods to accurately pinpoint potentially effective treatments for lupus among existing drugs,” Lipsky said in a press release. “Since these drugs have already been extensively tested for other diseases, studies to test their effectiveness in lupus are far less risky and can be completed much more quickly than trials of investigational compounds.”

Researchers then focused on analyzing the drugs, using an evaluation system developed by Lipsky and Grammer, called Combined Lupus Treatment Scoring (CoLT), to pinpoint those that were most promising drugs. This priority list included therapies approved for diseases like psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and cancer.

A parallel study led by the John and Marcia Goldman Foundation developed another data analysis tool, that was used to identify many of the same drugs found by the CoLT system.

“Repurposing already-approved drugs holds tremendous benefit for people with lupus,” said Kenneth M. Farber, the Lupus Research Alliance’s co-chief executive officer. “In tandem with LRxL-STAT, we created the Lupus Clinical Investigators Network (LuCIN) with the ability to conduct small trials that test lupus drug candidates quickly. The end result – people with lupus can be treated with safer and more effective drugs far faster.”