Treating Lupus with Benlysta

A few months ago, Human Genome Services Inc. (NASDAQ: HGSI) and co-development partner GlaxoSmithKline revealed data from a phase III trial of Benlysta™, a promising new drug for treating systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), otherwise known as “lupus.” Their stock had literally tripled within a matter of two open trading sessions drawing significant attention from investors all over.

I too wondered what else was in the pipeline for HGS in the months to come. Was this just a one-hit-wonder or an indication of HGS’ rise to power after having been in the shadows for years? The ongoing trials coupled with the success of the first trial convinced me to invest a considerable fraction of my portfolio in Human Genome Services – a decision that will be assessed tomorrow when results from the second of two late-stage trials of Benlysta will be reported. For better or worse, this single announcement will undoubtedly affect investors’ faith in the company as a whole.

Aside from the potential $3 billion/year drug (split 50-50 by HGS and Glaxo), let’s consider the idea of finally having an approved treatment for lupus. That in itself is incredible! As a medical student, it’s a pleasure to know that I’ve seen this drug evolve through trials, and one day, I may actually prescribe it to patients with autoimmune disorders. Another instance of research going from “bench to bedside.” 🙂

For those who are interested in how the drug works, the concept is actually not that difficult to grasp. HGS has a great write up on their website explaining the mechanism. Be sure to check it out!

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