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Experimental Lupus Drug Shows Some Promise: Report

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An experimental drug for the autoimmune disease lupus has produced favorable results in a company-sponsored study. It could potentially become the first new drug for lupus in 50 years, USA Today reported.

The drug, Benlysta, helps to limit the immune system response that attacks lupus patients' tissues, often damaging vital organs.

Each of the 865 patients in the preliminary study were given standard therapy for lupus, which consists primarily of treatment with steroids. The researchers found that 52 percent of patients on a low dose of Benlysta and 58 percent of those receiving a high dose of the drug, in tandem with the standard therapy, experienced significant improvement, compared with 43 percent of those taking standard therapy and a placebo, USA Today reported.

Also, more Benlysta patients were able to reduce their dose of steroid, and with it the bloating and other side effects of steroid use, company officials said.

"All of the investigators we've shown [these results to] are just thrilled. They haven't had a good clinical trials result in years. Lupus patients should have some hope, too," said David Stump of Human Genome Sciences Inc., which developed the drug with GlaxoSmithKline.

Stump said the company plans to release the study results at a scientific meeting later this year, USA Today said.

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