What is the difference between Benlysta® and Lupkynis™?
- Lupkynis (voclosporin) is a drug developed by Aurinia Pharmaceuticals. It is a chemical compound that blocks the function of calcineurin, a protein involved in activating T cells, an essential part of the body’s immune system.
- By blocking calcineurin, voclosporin inhibits the expression of a pro-inflammatory signaling molecule called Interleukin-2 (IL-2). IL-2 regulates the activities of white blood cells, the part of our immune system responsible for fighting infection.
- IL-2 is a type of messenger molecule (cytokine) that alerts other cells about an infectious invader, such as bacteria and viruses. IL-2 also plays an essential role in recognizing the difference between these foreign invaders ("non-self") and the body’s own cells (“self”).
- Lupus occurs when the immune system fails to recognize ‘self’ and produces white blood cells or antibodies directed at the body’s own tissue (autoantibodies).
- It is a pill taken by mouth.
- Benlysta (belimumab) is a biologic developed by Human Genome Sciences in partnership with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). A biologic is a large, complex molecule that is produced using recombinant DNA technology.
- It is a human monoclonal antibody produced by cloning a particular white blood cell, which blocks a protein called B-cell activating factor (BAFF), also known as B-lymphocyte stimulator (BLyS).
- BlyS is required for B cell survival. In lupus, autoreactive B cells lead to autoreactive plasma cells that make the autoantibodies that react against self-proteins and cause tissue injury. BENLYSTA binds to and blocks BlyS, and in this way leads to B cell death, including autoreacitve B cells. This is thought to be a key mechanism of how BENLYSTA improves lupus and lupus nephritis.
- Benlysta is given either directly into a vein (called intravenous infusion) in a doctor’s office or as a shot given under the skin (called subcutaneous injection).