Rheumatoid Arthritis Drug Leflunomide Offers Encouraging Results in People with Lupus Nephritis
In a recent study, researchers looked into the efficacy and safety of leflunomide as a new treatment option for lupus nephritis (LN). LN is a common, but serious complication of lupus that occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks the kidneys, leading to inflammation and possibly to organ damage. Leflunomide is an immunosuppressive drug (a type of drug that reduces the strength of the immune system) widely used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.
A total of 215 people were part of a randomized, open-label trial that compared leflunomide to azathioprine, a commonly used therapy for LN. Leflunomide and azathioprine were administered after the initial therapy phase with a different, primary treatment to help stabilize kidney function.
Key results include:
- Kidney flares were observed in 17 (15.7%) leflunomide-treated participants and 19 (17.8%) azathioprine-treated participants.
- Time to kidney flare did not statistically differ between the two treatments.
- All other health measures assessed in the study were also comparable between the two groups.
- Both treatments were found to be safe and well tolerated.
The findings support leflunomide as a potential maintenance therapy for LN, however larger follow-up studies are needed to verify the long-term effect. In the maintenance phase of treatment, the aim is to limit disease flare ups, reduce cumulative damage, improve quality of life and support remission after the primary treatment has been provided.
While there is no cure for LN right now, having the right treatment plan can help get your symptoms in check. Talk to your doctor before making any changes to your medication and learn more about treating lupus.