Lupus nephritis (LN) is one of the most common complications of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). It affects approximately 100,000 patients in the United States alone. Basically, the patient’s body begins to attack its own kidneys and sadly, it can be life-threatening.
There are therapeutic options out there for LN, but they rarely result in long-term remission. Additionally, they can cause the patient additional problems. 50-75% of patients don’t respond to the treatment at all and most who do relapse within 5 years. 10-30% of patients end up facing end stage renal disease.
But, a new therapy called EQ001, developed by Equillium, is moving into clinical trials for this condition. This research is being funded by the Lupus Research Alliance and scientists are hopeful it could be a more effective option for patients.
EQ001 is already in investigation for graft versus host disease (GvHD) and severe asthma. The FDA has granted EQ001 Orphan Drug Designation and Fast Track Designation for acute GvHD. They will initiate a Phase 1b/2 trial for acute GvHD the first quarter of this year. In the second quarter of this year, a proof-of-concept-trial will begin for severe asthma.
How it Works
Researchers are so excited about the development of EQ001 because it works using a completely different approach than current therapies used in LN. Basically, it inhibits the trafficking and activation of T cells by blocking the CD6-ALCAM pathway.
This approach is supported by research conducted by Chandra Mohan which has already shown that ALCAM is a predictive urinary biomarker for detecting LN. Equillium hopes that their research of EQ001 will not only improve outcomes for LN patients but assist in identifying which patients are most likely to respond to different therapies.
Utilizing urinary biomarkers to better target therapies is a brand new development in LN research. Hopefully, we will see continued positive results from this approach in the upcoming trial of EQ001.
The Upcoming Trial
This trial should commence in the second half of this year. It is a Phase 1b trial which will evaluate EQ001 as a treatment for refractory LN. As part of this trial, researchers will continue to evaluate the CD6-ALCAM pathway as well as other urinary biomarkers.
Equillium is also looking into partnering with the Lupus Research Alliance and Dr. Mohan. These partnerships could help to accelerate research for EQ001 and urinary biomarkers.
You can read more about this research in LN and the upcoming Phase 1b trial here.