According to an article in Healio, the immunosuppressing drug voclosporin was found to be effective in stimulating renal responses in patients with lupus nephritis.
About Lupus Nephritis
Lupus nephritis is a complication found in patients with lupus, an autoimmune disease in which the body’s proteins attack itself. About 50% of adult patients with lupus, and 80% of pediatric patients with lupus, will develop lupus nephritis.
Patients with lupus nephritis experience kidney inflammation. Autoantibodies start to attack the area of the kidneys that filters waste out of the body. This results in inflammation, high blood pressure, the presence of blood and proteins in the urine.
Lupus nephritis exhibits symptoms such as foamy or dark urine, swelling in the hands, feet, and ankles, joint pain, a butterfly-shaped rash across the face, and muscle pain. If not treated, kidney failure can occur.
Current treatments for lupus nephritis work to suppress the immune system in an attempt to keep it from attacking the body. Additionally, treatments such as beta blockers and corticosteroids are used to reduce blood pressure and inflammation. Learn more about lupus nephritis here.
In Phase 3 of the AURORA trial, study results found that voclosporin was effective in treating patients with lupus nephritis. The trial followed 357 patients who received either a placebo or 23.7 mg of voclosporin daily. All patients, regardless of placebo or voclosporin, also received 2 g of mycophenolate and low-dose oral steroids.
At both 24 and 52 weeks, patients taking voclosporin had higher renal response rates. At 52 weeks, these rates were 40.8% for patients taking voclosporin and 22.5% for patients taking placebos.
Voclosporin increased renal response in patients. Patients treated with voclosporin were:
2.65 times more likely to meet the criteria for response based on proteinuria and eGFR.
In more basic terms, kidney function was found to be improved based on levels of protein in the urine, as well as estimated glomerular filtration rate. Estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) is used to predict the level of kidney function.
For example, an eGFR of 90 or higher means that there may be some kidney damage, but the kidney is functioning normally. An eGFR of 3o to 44, however, signifies moderate to severe loss of kidney function.
Ultimately, the results are promising. Despite voclosporin still being an experimental drug, it did severely decrease protein levels in the urine while increasing renal response. Patients with lupus in remission experience less kidney damage. As such, the potential for voclosporin as a future treatment could ensure more effective and targeted care.