Conference ReCAP

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Updates at ACR 2021: Novel Agents and Combination Regimens


Dr Joan Merrill, of the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation in Oklahoma City, reviews updates on several treatment options for systemic lupus erythematosus that were presented at the 2021 ACR Convergence.

Dr Merrill begins by sharing data from a phase 2 study in which she and her colleagues investigated the efficacy and safety data for iberdomide. The novel agent was associated with sustained clinical benefits in multiple measures of disease activity and was well tolerated through week 52.

Next, she reports on a post-hoc analysis of the BLISS-LN trial that evaluated the effects of belimumab plus standard therapy on renal outcomes in patients with or without steroid pulses during induction therapy. The study found that belimumab improved kidney outcomes compared with placebo, regardless of whether steroid pulses were administered. However, it was also observed that prevention of lupus nephritis flares was more prominent in patients who received steroid pulses.

Finally, Dr Merrill highlights a late-breaking poster that reported results from BLISS-BELIEVE, a study evaluating the efficacy and safety of belimumab plus rituximab. Although adding a single cycle of rituximab to belimumab did not improve disease control or remission, the study found that duration of disease control at week 52 and SLEDAI-2K reductions at week 104 were significantly greater in this group compared with the belimumab-plus-placebo group. However, there were also more serious infections reported in the belimumab-plus-rituximab group.


Joan Merrill, MD, Professor, Department of Medicine, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center; Director of Clinical Projects, Arthritis & Clinical Immunology Program, Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Joan Merrill, MD, has disclosed the following relevant financial relationships: Serve(d) as a speaker or a member of a speakers bureau for: Biogen

Received research grant from: AstraZeneca

Received income in an amount equal to or greater than $250 from: AbbVie; Amgen; AstraZeneca; Aurinia; Biogen; BMS; EMD Serono; Genentech; GSK; Janssen; Provention; RemeGen; Sanofi; UCB; Zenas

Next Article: