Remember all those drugs that were supposed to come tumbling out of the Human Genome Project? So far there's not much in the medicine cabinet to show for all the hype surrounding the decoding of the human genome.
DNA image/Wikimedia Commons
Are there more drugs in there?
Today, though, there's some encouraging data about an experimental drug to fight lupus, an autoimmune disorder, that hasn't seen a newly approved treatment in four decades.
A second late-stage clinical test of Human Genome Sciences' Benlysta, which suppresses antibody-producing cells in the immune system, showed good results, buoying hopes for a fresh lupus treatment. The experimental drug's roots stretch back to the gene sequencing gold rush back in the '90s.
Way back then Human Genome Sciences, an early and aggressive gene miner, uncovered a gene for a little protein that tells the immune system to pump out B cells, the body's antibody factories.
Lupus, after all, is an autoimmune disorder in which errant antibodies are thought to attack the body, so the company worked on a counter-antibody to block the stimulating factor that led to overactive B cells.
Data just released show that 43.2 percent of patients treated for a year with a high-dose of the drug had a significant improvement in lupus symptoms compared with patients getting a placebo. The data weren't quite as good as those from an earlier study.
But they're strong enough to support an application for approval of the drug. Human Genome Sciences and partner GlaxoSmithKline expect to file with the Food and Drug Administration in the first half of next year.