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      Spotlight on blisibimod and its potential in the treatment of systemic lupus erythematosus: evidence to date

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          Abstract

          B cells in general and BAFF (B cell activating factor of the tumor necrosis factor [TNF] family) in particular have been primary targets of recent clinical trials in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). In 2011, belimumab, a monoclonal antibody against BAFF, became the first biologic agent approved for the treatment of SLE. Follow-up studies have shown excellent long-term safety and tolerability of belimumab. In this review, we critically analyze blisibimod, a novel BAFF-neutralizing agent. In contrast to belimumab that only blocks soluble BAFF trimer but not soluble 60-mer or membrane BAFF, blisibimod blocks with high affinity all three forms of BAFF. Furthermore, blisibimod has a unique structure built on four high-affinity BAFF-binding peptides fused to the IgG1-Fc carrier. It was tested in phase I and II trials in SLE where it showed safety and tolerability. While it failed to reach the primary endpoint in a recent phase II trial, post hoc analysis demonstrated its efficacy in SLE patients with higher disease activity. Based on these results, blisibimod is currently undergoing phase III trials targeting this responder subpopulation of SLE patients. The advantage of blisibimod, compared to its competitors, lies in its higher avidity for BAFF, but a possible drawback may come from its immunogenic potential and the anticipated loss of efficacy over time.

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          Most cited references 75

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          Interferon-inducible gene expression signature in peripheral blood cells of patients with severe lupus.

          Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a complex, inflammatory autoimmune disease that affects multiple organ systems. We used global gene expression profiling of peripheral blood mononuclear cells to identify distinct patterns of gene expression that distinguish most SLE patients from healthy controls. Strikingly, about half of the patients studied showed dysregulated expression of genes in the IFN pathway. Furthermore, this IFN gene expression "signature" served as a marker for more severe disease involving the kidneys, hematopoetic cells, and/or the central nervous system. These results provide insights into the genetic pathways underlying SLE, and identify a subgroup of patients who may benefit from therapies targeting the IFN pathway.
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            BAFF, a Novel Ligand of the Tumor Necrosis Factor Family, Stimulates B Cell Growth

            Members of the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) family induce pleiotropic biological responses, including cell growth, differentiation, and even death. Here we describe a novel member of the TNF family, designated BAFF (for B cell activating factor belonging to the TNF family), which is expressed by T cells and dendritic cells. Human BAFF was mapped to chromosome 13q32-34. Membrane-bound BAFF was processed and secreted through the action of a protease whose specificity matches that of the furin family of proprotein convertases. The expression of BAFF receptor appeared to be restricted to B cells. Both membrane-bound and soluble BAFF induced proliferation of anti-immunoglobulin M–stimulated peripheral blood B lymphocytes. Moreover, increased amounts of immunoglobulins were found in supernatants of germinal center–like B cells costimulated with BAFF. These results suggest that BAFF plays an important role as costimulator of B cell proliferation and function.
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              TACI and BCMA are receptors for a TNF homologue implicated in B-cell autoimmune disease.

              B cells are important in the development of autoimmune disorders by mechanisms involving dysregulated polyclonal B-cell activation, production of pathogenic antibodies, and co-stimulation of autoreactive T cells. zTNF4 (BLyS, BAFF, TALL-1, THANK) is a member of the tumour necrosis factor (TNF) ligand family that is a potent co-activator of B cells in vitro and in vivo. Here we identify two receptors for zTNF4 and demonstrate a relationship between zTNF4 and autoimmune disease. Transgenic animals overexpressing zTNF4 in lymphoid cells develop symptoms characteristic of systemic lupus erythaematosus (SLE) and expand a rare population of splenic B-Ia lymphocytes. In addition, circulating zTNF4 is more abundant in NZBWF1 and MRL-lpr/lpr mice during the onset and progression of SLE. We have identified two TNF receptor family members, TACI and BCMA, that bind zTNF4. Treatment of NZBWF1 mice with soluble TACI-Ig fusion protein inhibits the development of proteinuria and prolongs survival of the animals. These findings demonstrate the involvement of zTNF4 and its receptors in the development of SLE and identify TACI-Ig as a promising treatment of autoimmune disease in humans.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Drug Des Devel Ther
                Drug Des Devel Ther
                Drug Design, Development and Therapy
                Drug Design, Development and Therapy
                Dove Medical Press
                1177-8881
                2017
                13 March 2017
                : 11
                : 747-757
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Division of Rheumatology, University of Kentucky, Kentucky Clinic, Lexington, KY
                [2 ]Division of Rheumatology and Department of Immunology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN
                [3 ]Division of Immunology, Department of Internal Medicine, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, USA
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Aleksander Lenert, Division of Rheumatology, University of Kentucky, Kentucky Clinic, J507, 740 South Limestone St, Lexington, KY 40536-0284, USA, Email aleks.lenert@ 123456uky.edu
                Article
                dddt-11-747
                10.2147/DDDT.S114552
                5357079
                © 2017 Lenert et al. This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited

                The full terms of this license are available at https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/). By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.

                Categories
                Review

                Pharmacology & Pharmaceutical medicine

                blisibimod, b cells, lupus, april, baff

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