LA JOLLA, CA March 9, 2011 For Immediate Release Scientific advances at The Scripps Research Institute were key to laying the foundation for the new drug Benlysta (belimumab), approved today by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Benlysta, which treats the most common type of lupus, is the first in a new class of pharmaceuticals that prevents the body from attacking its own critical tissues.
"I am deeply gratified that our scientific findings have proven so valuable to drug discovery," said Richard A. Lerner, MD, president of Scripps Research. "This development underlines the importance of basic academic science in laying important groundwork for life-saving medical advances."
Benlysta, developed by GlaxoSmithKline and Human Genome Sciences, is the first new drug treatment for lupus in 50 years.
Short-Circuiting the Cycle of Lupus
Benlysta was approved for systemic lupus erythematosus, a chronic, life-threatening inflammatory disease affecting the joints, skin, kidneys, blood, heart, and lungs. It is often simply referred to as "lupus" (although there are other types of lupus, including one that affects solely the skin). Estimates of the number of Americans affected by sytemic lupus erythematosus range from 161,000 to 1.5 million, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Lupus can occur at any age, but first appears largely in 15- to 40-year-olds, the majority of whom are women.
Lupus is an autoimmune disease, which occurs when a person's body produces an immune response against its own tissues instead of solely attacking foreign invaders such as viruses, bacteria, and other toxins.
Symptoms can include debilitating fatigue, painful and swollen joints, fever, skin rash, and kidney problems. The disease can also lead to arthritis, kidney failure, heart and lung inflammation, central nervous system abnormalities, inflammation of the blood vessels, and blood disorders.
Benlysta (itself a type of immune molecule
|Contact: Mika Ono|
Scripps Research Institute