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Rheumatologist Discusses New Drug for Moderate to Severe Systemic Lupus Providing Promising Results

In early November 2015, researchers at the annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology in San Francisco, CA, revealed the promising results of a clinical trial involving a new drug designed to treat moderate to severe systemic erythematosus. The drug, anifrolumab, significantly reduced disease activity in participants, earning it fast-track status by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for eventual approval. Beverly Hills rheumatologist Dr. Susan Baker discusses what this new medication can do for future lupus treatment.

“The results of the mid-stage clinical trial are really encouraging, considering there has only been one other medication in the past 60 years that has been approved for treating lupus,” said renowned rheumatologist Dr. Susan Baker. “As an auto-immune disease, finding an effective lupus medication is particularly challenging.”

How Does it Work?

Anifrolumab works by targeting the receptors that respond to the interferon protein that causes inflammation in the joints as the immune system attacks the joints. During the phase II trial, 34 percent of patients who were given 300 mg of the lupus medication every four weeks began to experience results within 169 days, and by 365 days, more than half of the participants enjoyed relief from their lupus symptoms.

“The research also helps us determine which patients will have successful results with anifrolumab. Some lupus patients have a higher interferon gene signature than others, but the study found that those patients have the best results,” added Dr. Baker.

Another indicator of the success of the medication is that many lupus patients were able to significantly reduce the corticosteroids they needed to treat the painful symptoms of lupus.

“If the medication can cut down the painful inflammation that lupus patients suffer, they don’t need to take so many pain medications, many of which can have negative side effects, which is particularly promising for many patients,” said Dr. Baker.

Potential Side Effects

One of the unfortunate effects of anifrolumab was that many patients experienced an increase in shingles or influenza; however, it was possible to quickly and safely treat these conditions. Read more about lupus treatment at

“I look forward to seeing the results of further studies with anifrolumab and hope to have it available for our patients,” said Dr. Baker.

Dr. Susan Baker is board-certified in both internal medicine and rheumatology. She has been providing exceptional and personalized care from her Beverly Hills facility since 2003. She is also a teacher and clinical instructor at Cedars Sinai Hospital and UCLA, David Geffen School of Medicine, respectively.

Get in Touch with a Beverly Hills Rheumatologist

To learn more about Susan A. Baker MD, Rheumatology & Internal Medicine, please contact us online or call (310) 274-7770.

Next, here are 5 things you didn’t know about Lupus.

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