Outside experts were divided on the findings, published in the June 8 online edition of Nature Medicine.
"This is a very exciting study that explores a novel mechanism for treating lupus erythematosus," said Dr. Jennifer Grossman, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles.
"The fact that antibodies almost completely disappeared is encouraging. I look forward to hearing more about this treatment in the future," she said.
But, another expert expressed concern that the treatment could adversely affect other cells in the human body.
"I think they're onto something important, it looks as if it has a remarkable therapeutic effect," said Dr. Noel Rose, director of the Autoimmune Disease Research Center at Johns Hopkins University. "The downside is that this is a proteasome inhibitor, and there is no reason to think that it would be specific for plasma cells. It does affect other rapidly proliferating cells."
Rose noted that many drugs may appear safe during an initial trial. "I'm still really suspicious that if this is used clinically, there are going to be side effects like effects on intestinal or other rapidly dividing cells," he said. "The question is, are the side effects going to be severe enough to prevent the use of this drug?"
To learn more about lupus, the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
SOURCES: Reinhard Voll, M.D., University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Erlangen, Germany; Jennifer Grossman, M.D., assistant professor of medicine, University of California, Los Angeles; Noel Rose, M.D., director, Autoimmune Disease Research Center, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore; June 8, 2008, Nature Medicine, online
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