Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease that can affect many different organ systems. As many as 60% of adults with SLE develop lupus nephritis (LN) - a serious manifestation of SLE in which the immune system begins to attack the kidneys. As a result, the kidneys become inflamed and can’t function properly, which can significantly impair quality of life and may eventually lead to kidney failure.
Standard treatment for lupus nephritis involves initial treatment with a steroid medicine to reduce kidney inflammation combined with an immunosuppressive medication to stop the immune system from attacking the kidney. Maintenance therapy following the recovery of kidney function requires continued steroids and immunosuppressive medication for a minimum of 2 years, typically longer.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved two drugs for the treatment of lupus nephritis. All available treatments can result in side effects and their effectiveness in the short- and long-term vary for different people. Therefore, additional research is needed to find new treatments that have minimal side effects and are effective in producing long-term disease improvement.