Trial of Arsenic Trioxide Finds the Drug is Safe and Effective as a Short-Course Treatment for Lupus
Newly published data from a phase IIa drug trial shows the treatment arsenic trioxide (ATO) showed positive results for people with lupus. Initial findings also show encouraging efficacy results for the treatment of refractory lupus (lupus that persists or worsens despite conventional treatment). Half of the study subjects had decreased disease activity by the end of the study period and average prednisone dosage decreased by more than 50%.
ATO is currently approved as a therapy for a certain type of leukemia, but early research has shown the drug may be effective in people with active lupus as well.
In this clinical trial, 11 people with lupus were given a short course of ATO intravenously (administered in the vein through an IV). Study participants had active lupus, despite receiving conventional treatment, and received 10 IV infusions of ATO over a 24-day period. Two of the 11 people experienced an adverse event as a result of the treatment, indicating it has an acceptable safety profile.
Additionally, five out of 10 participants showed improved disease activity 24 weeks later. (One subject was omitted from the analysis.) As disease activity decreased, prednisone dosage decreased as well. The average dosage dropped from 12.25 mg per day to 6 mg per day, and 70% of participants achieved the goal dose of 7.5 mg per day.
These preliminary results support further evaluation in larger clinical trials to better define the risk-benefit of ATO in SLE. Consult with your physician before making any changes to your treatment.
Learn more about medications to treat lupus.