Rituximab Shows Promise as Treatment Option for People with Difficult-to-Treat Lupus
Research shows that rituximab (RTX), known by the commercial name TRUXIMA, may help people with refractory lupus achieve and sustain disease remission. Refractory lupus refers to a form of the disease that is particularly difficult to treat and less responsive to standard therapies.
In a European study of 147 people with lupus, some people received a single course of RTX, while others received RTX maintenance therapy, defined as receiving a single course of RTX at least three times, and at an interval of four to eight months in between treatments for the purposes of preventing relapse. Six months after the first RTX treatment, nearly half (45%) demonstrated a complete response to the therapy, indicating little to no disease activity, while another 28% had a partial response, indicating some improvement in disease activity.
Of those receiving further RTX maintenance therapy, the majority (84%) were in remission at the time of their last RTX course. Among study participants, 35% never experienced a flare during their maintenance RTX treatment and had low damage accrual. After the maintenance therapy, relapse-free survival was similar to that of the single RTX treatment group.
Active joint inflammation (articular disease) at the time of the first RTX administration was associated with an increased risk of flare during RTX maintenance therapy. Patients with low C4 levels, those who had received fewer immunosuppressive drugs prior to RTX treatment, and people with severe disease were more likely to respond favorably to RTX. These results suggest that the ideal candidates for RTX may be those with more active disease and without a clear refractory treatment plan, which is consistent with previous findings.
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