A team of researchers at Northwell Health’s Feinstein Institute for Medical Research is set to lead a new trial evaluating the efficacy of JBT-101 (lenabasum) to treat joint inflammation in lupus.

Lupus is an autoimmune disease estimated to affect 1.5 million people in the US. It causes the immune system to lose the ability to differentiate between foreign agents and healthy tissue.

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Under the new trial, sponsored by the US’ National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), researchers will investigate the effects of JBT-101 (lenabasum) on musculoskeletal pain in lupus patients.

“Given the significant side effects of current treatments for lupus, this drug may have enormous potential for patients.”

Feinstein Institute professor Dr Meggan Mackay will be the trial’s lead investigator.

Set to enrol a total of 100 patients, the two-year trial will be conducted in 15 sites, including Mackay’s lab in the US.

Mackay said: “It has been shown in pre-clinical studies that JBT-101 suppresses inflammatory proteins, decreases immune cell migration and promotes molecules that support the resolution of inflammation without suppressing the immune system.

“We are extremely excited to have the support of the NIH and Corbus Pharmaceuticals to test this investigational drug candidate in lupus as it has proven to be successful in smaller studies of other disorders where inflammation is a symptom.

“Given the significant side effects of current treatments for lupus, this drug may have enormous potential for patients who do not want to take immunosuppressants, or who haven’t experienced relief from current therapies.”

JBT-101 (lenabasum) is an oral selective cannabinoid receptor type 2 (CB2) agonist that features a structure similar to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) but will preferentially activate receptors on immune cells and does not affect brain function.