Bevra Hahn, MD, comments on the BENLYSTA™ trial

The report of Benlysta as an effective biologic therapy that improves quality of life and suppresses disease activity in people with SLE is an exciting breakthrough in the search for new therapies for this chronic illness that threatens the lives and health of 1,500,000 people in the United States alone.

Most people with SLE never have a day in which they feel good, and the illness can be life-threatening if it involves major organs such as kidney, brain, heart or lung. Benlysta (belimumab) works by suppressing white cells (B lymphocytes specifically) that lead to production of autoantibodies (proteins that can attack the organs and are important in releasing other proteins that cause fatigue and aching).

These new results show that administration of Benlysta for one year, in addition to standard treatments for SLE, resulted in substantial improvement in almost 60% of people, compared to only 46% in the group that received placebo plus standard care; the improvement included better quality of life. There are several exciting contributions of this new study.