The Lupus Research Alliance (LRA) recently launched a new initiative called the Lupus Clinical Investigators Network (LuCIN) to accelerate the identification and development of new therapies to treat lupus.
LuCIN was originally created as a continuation of a project that the LRA had initiated for drug repurposing – to test drugs that had been approved for other diseases by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for their potential to treat lupus.
Now LuCIN will also pursue lupus clinical trials of investigational drugs in partnership with biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies.
LuCIN’s goal is to conduct safe and reliable clinical studies on new lupus treatments, facilitate the sharing of clinical and biological data to increase our understanding of lupus, and include patient input and participation in clinical studies.
Another main objective for LuCIN is to help identify leadership and promote collaboration through the lupus community of scientists, healthcare providers, lupus patients, and their families.
LuCIN will be comprised of leading lupus experts from 58 academic research centers throughout North America and provide a coordinated framework to evaluate potential new treatments faster and cheaper than existing options.
The first planned trial within LuCIN will test Rayos (prednisone) – known as Lodotra in Europe – in the treatment of lupus. The anti-inflammatory drug is commonly prescribed for rheumatoid arthritis and other common inflammatory conditions. The study will look at the effect of Rayos on the severe fatigue frequently experienced by lupus patients.
Rayos is different from other prednisone formulations due to its pharmacokinetic properties, which allow the delayed release of the corticosteroid drug. This process allows the drug to achieve its therapeutic effects in the middle of the night, when cytokine levels increase. Preventing the release of inflammatory factors has been previously observed in clinical trials of rheumatoid arthritis patients who were given Rayos at 10 p.m. at night.
Additional trials planned for the future include studying the potential benefits of contemplative practices on relieving lupus symptoms, and comparing MRI technology to standard surgical biopsy to assess lupus nephritis.
The network also aims to advance the quality of lupus research, and attract and train new researchers in the field. Experienced scientists will mentor junior investigators at each center to encourage the next generation of lupus researchers.
In addition, the insights gained by groups of highly experienced investigators working on similar studies is expected to improve tools used to measure the effectiveness of potential treatments.
“Without patient participation in lupus clinical trials, finding safer and more effective lupus treatments will continue to pose significant challenges,” Albert Roy, LuCIN’s newly appointed executive director, said in a press release.
“By connecting and engaging the investigator community and lupus patients in a meaningful way, we hope to improve clinical trial education, build patient trust, and offer access to new and exciting lupus treatments. We aim to make it easier and more comfortable for patients to get involved and make a real difference.”