Evaluating the potential of belimumab to treat patients with lupus who do not respond to rituximab

Disease - Systemic lupus erythematosis

Lead applicant - Professor Michael Ehrenstein

Organisation - University College London

Type of grant - Clinical Studies

Status of grant - Active

Amount of the original award - £535,816

Start date - 1 July 2015

Reference - 20873

Public Summary

What are the aims of this research?

The BEAT-Lupus research study aims to investigate if belimumab can be used in combination with rituximab to treat lupus patients.

Why is this research important?

In people with lupus the body’s immune system produces antibodies that attack its own tissues, causing inflammation. The drug rituximab looked promising in treating lupus but as of yet has not proven successful as many patients suffer disease flares after receiving rituximab requiring further treatment. To try to prevent relapses after the use of rituximab, this research is investigating whether another drug called belimumab can be given safely and effectively after treatment with rituximab to prevent flares developing. If this proves effective, these two drugs could be used in combination as a new treatment for lupus.

How will the findings benefit patients?

There is currently uncertainty around the best way of treating lupus patients with severe disease who have failed conventional therapy. This clinical trial will test the safety of belimumab and provide information on the benefit of using this drug sequentially after rituximab for these patients. If the results of this pilot study are encouraging, this approach to treatment could be tested in a larger trial and may eventually provide a new option for patients with lupus.