PPD pens Lupus Therapeutics pact to boost research for the autoimmune disease

High magnification micrograph of diffuse proliferative lupus nephritis
High magnification micrograph of diffuse proliferative lupus nephritis (By Nephron - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17480936)

PPD has signed up to a new collaboration with Lupus Therapeutics to deepen its biotech clients’ lupus research capabilities.

The contract research organization will work with Lupus Therapeutics, a part of the Lupus Research Alliance that focuses on lupus clinical trials, in a two-way deal.

PPD will give access to protocol and trial optimization capabilities for its customers as well as Lupus Therapeutics' preferred investigators and Lupus Clinical Investigators Network (LuCIN) sites.

And in turn, Lupus can tap CRO PPD to “provide patients with greater access to novel medicines and clinical care.”

Through this collab, PPD has access to the more than 50 LuCIN research sites with over 200 affiliated investigators, who collectively see more than 20,000 active systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients.

“Lupus Therapeutics is an exemplary organization to collaborate with because of its extensive lupus expertise,” said Karen Kaucic, M.D., PPD’s chief medical officer. “With site staff who have experience across multiple studies, a known, reliable network of investigators and sites ready to initiate clinical trials awarded work, and an established track record of success in this therapeutic area, we believe the collaboration between Lupus Therapeutics and PPD within immunology will play an important role in treating lupus.”

There are a number of types of lupus and severities, which can wax and wane, but typically SLE is a long-term condition causing inflammation to the joints, skin and other organs. There's no cure, but symptoms can improve if treatment starts early.

GlaxoSmithKline’s Benlysta is the most recent specific med to be approved for SLE, although patients often use malaria drug hydroxychloroquine and over the counter anti-inflammatories to help.

There have been a number of R&D attempts in recent years to help with the autoimmune disease, although a fair few have been beset by failures.

But there are hopes on the horizon, including two recent positive data sets out by Biogen and its drug BIIB059 as well as AstraZeneca’s anifrolumab, which is aiming for a 2021 approval.

“With the urgent need for new lupus treatments, we look forward to working with PPD on ways to accelerate and optimize the development of lupus clinical research,” said Albert T. Roy, executive director of Lupus Therapeutics.

“We anticipate that the combined scientific, operational and drug development expertise within our two organizations will significantly increase the efficiency of lupus trials and enable us to obtain the lupus community’s perspective to incorporate into studies while they are being designed. Our goal is to deliver new therapies as quickly as possible that meet patients’ priorities.”