The development of new treatments for lupus has been frustratingly slow. It is hoped that this combination of two biologic therapies will improve the lives of patients.
In 2012 Professor Ehrenstein and his team found successive treatments with Rituximab led to temporary improvements for lupus patients. However this was often followed by ever worsening flares.
Studies on other patients revealed that BAFF increases after taking rituximab and is associated with disease flares. This trial will test whether Belimumab can be used to prevent flares in patients with SLE post Rituximab therapy.
The research teams at 16 participating NHS Hospitals within the UK will test the effectiveness of treating patients with both Belimumab, (Benlysta) an antibody that blocks the actions of the B cell growth factor BAFF, and Rituximab, a drug designed specifically to deplete B cells.