Two New Drugs May Offer Hope For Women Suffering From Lupus

Almost 24 million Americans are suffering from some kind of autoimmune disease, according to John Hopkins Medicine. Autoimmune diseases occur when your immune system targets your body because it cannot tell the difference between foreign cells and your own cells. Of the 23.5 million people suffering from an autoimmune disease in the United States, around 1.5 million of them have lupus, says the Lupus Foundation of America.

When someone has lupus, their immune system attacks various parts of their body, ranging from the joints, skin, heart, lungs, and brain (via Mayo Clinic.) Symptoms of lupus include fatigue and fever, chest pain, headaches, joint pain, and most notably, a butterfly-shaped rash that appears on the face. No single case of lupus is the same. Due to the fact that it can attack a different part of the body, the symptoms will depend on which body part is being targeted.

Like many autoimmune diseases, lupus has no cure. Treatments to manage the symptoms of lupus, such as antimalarial drugs and corticosteroids, are given to suppress the inflammation, joint pain, and fatigue that lupus brings on (via the CDC.)

Now, scientists say that there are two new drugs that will help with the treatment of lupus, including one that has no side effects.

What are the new drugs that will help treat lupus?

In a study published by the Arthritis & Rheumatology journal, researchers found that anifrolumab is a safe and effective way to treat lupus. The drug is a monoclonal antibody, meaning that it behaves like your antibodies in order to fight off diseases, says the Mayo Clinic. The treatment, which is often used for cancer patients, was shown to be useful against Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, or SLE, the most common form of lupus.

Researchers found that anifrolumab effectively blocks Type 1 interferons in the body that indicate to the immune system to attack healthy tissue. The long-term study, which took place over the course of three years, scientists found that not only had the conditions of those taking the drug improved more than their placebo-taking counterparts, but the symptoms had decreased, lowering the need for steroid treatments.

In a second study published by Arthritis & Rheumatology, scientists looked into deucravacitinib's effectiveness against lupus. While people on the higher dose of anifrolumab found the best results, those on the lower dose of deucravacitinib had the best results. Their improvement of symptoms went up by 58%, compared to the 34% increase that those on the placebo drug experienced. The oral drug, which is typically used in the treatment of plaque psoriasis, was not shown to have any side effects.