Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease that can affect many different organ systems. As many as 60% of adults with SLE develop lupus nephritis - a serious manifestation of SLE in which the immune system begins to attack the kidneys. As a result, the kidneys become inflamed and can’t function properly, which can significantly impair quality of life and may eventually lead to kidney failure.
The current standard treatment for lupus nephritis involves initial treatment with a steroid medicine, like Solu-Medrol® and prednisone, to reduce kidney inflammation combined with an immunosuppressive medication, like cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan®) or CellCept®, to stop the immune system from attacking the kidney. Maintenance therapy following the recovery of kidney function requires continued steroids and immunosuppressive medication for a minimum of 2 years, typically longer.
Current lupus nephritis treatments only achieve low response rates and can be very toxic. In addition, they typically require years of ongoing immunosuppression, which can put patients at increased risk for infections. Identifying an effective treatment with minimal side effects that can produce long-term disease improvement is still needed for lupus nephritis.