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Old cancer drug could be effecting at treating lupus

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Posted August 13, 2016

Lupus is a family of autoimmune diseases, which cause immune system to attack healthy tissues of the body. There are ways to treat this condition, but none of them are very effective. Now an international team of scientists conducted a research, showing that a drug, used to boost immune system, is effective at treating the lupus.

Although IL-2 originally was used to make immune system more active, small doses of it could combat overly active immune response. Image credit: Nephron via Wikimedia, CC-BY-SA-3.0

Although IL-2 originally was used to make immune system more active, small doses of it could combat overly active immune response. Image credit: Nephron via Wikimedia, CC-BY-SA-3.0

Scientists from Australia and China proved that a natural immune system protein, called IL-2, restores the balance of the overactive immune system. Interestingly, the drug in question is not new at all, because it has been approved back in the 1990s as a way to help immune system fight cancer. However, this drug has been forgotten and is not commonly used anymore, but could come in handy again as scientists tested much smaller doses of it to treat lupus. This new treatment is based on IL-2 protein, which regulates the activity of white blood cells.

When this therapy was used for cancer, patients were given large doses of IL-2 protein to stimulate the immune system. However, lower doses, surprisingly, do not stimulate, but overrule too strong activeness of immune system. It also helps self-checking of immune system, which should prevent autoimmune reactions. Professor Eric Morand, one of the authors of the study, said: “The real promise of this treatment is that it calms the hyperactive immune system through multiple mechanisms, which is very important as this new therapy may be effective for many patients. As the drug has been on the market for some time for other diseases, it can be rapidly put into formal trials for lupus treatment right away”.

It is also interesting how easily clinic trials can be started. Because the drug has already been proven safe back in the day, scientists are ready to start trials as soon as possible. Furthermore, scientists say that the drug could be approved for lupus treatment within a handful of years. And, of course, because it is an old drug, production of it should not take additional efforts either.

All lupus patients face many difficulties in their everyday lives. For decades there was no satisfactory way of treating it. Now, if clinic trials will be successful, a new therapy is only a few of years away.

Source: monash.edu

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