New Lupus Treatment Being Tested for Younger Patients

Ines Martins, PhD avatar

by Ines Martins, PhD |

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Delazatide may be effective to control flares in lupus nephritis patients, according to recent data from The Alliance for Children’s Therapeutics (ACT), a pediatric research collaboration between Seattle Children’s Research Institute and the biotech company Kineta, Inc. The results were presented during the recent American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting in San Francisco, California.

This ACT project’s research goal was to find alternatives to the medications currently available for children and teenagers suffering from lupus nephritis. The organization believes these medications are effective in reducing the significant inflammation associated with lupus, but they also suppress the immune system — an adverse effect that is especially unwanted in younger patients.

The results from the ex vivo study demonstrated that dalazatide, Kineta’s lead drug for lupus nephritis, can reduce a group of cytokines associated with active lupus (cytokines are a broad category of small proteins important in cell signaling, regulating the balance of maturation, growth and responsiveness of particular cell populations). Moreover, dalazatide has the capacity to suppress these cytokines — associated with disease inflammation and damage in lupus patients — to a similar degree to therapies known to be effective but considered more toxic, like cyclosporine A.

“Our new data demonstrates that cells from pediatric and adult lupus patients are sensitive to dalazatide — the effector memory cells can be blocked very well, suggesting that this agent may be effective in treating lupus patients,” Dr. Anne Stevens, pediatrician and rheumatology researcher at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, said in a press release.

Dalazatide (previously known as ShK-186) has been shown in preclinical and clinical data to selectively block voltage-gated Kv1.3 potassium channel, a key channel in the activation of effector-memory T cells, immune cells implicated in the development of several autoimmune diseases. This drug was the first specific Kv1.3 inhibitor to advance into human clinical trials and is currently being evaluated to treat autoimmune diseases, including lupus.