【CHINADAILY】Watchdog approves clinical trial for SLE drug

  China's food and drug watchdog approved clinical trial for a drug for the treatment of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), giving new hope to patients in China. 

  SLE is an incurable autoimmune disease that has not seen any new clinical drug emerge across the world since 1955, despite the US Food and Drug Administration approving a monoclonal antibody drug specific to B lymphocyte stimulator (BLyS) for treatment of SLE. 

  The FDA-approved drug is expensive. 

  "The spread of SLE is 10 times higher among Asians than the Westerners. Therefore, developing new drugs that are available and affordable to common people is important," said Zuo Jianping, a researcher at the Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, Chinese Academy of Sciences, who led the team that developed the medicine. 

  The drug β-aminoarteether maleate uses the active ingredients in Artemisia annua, which is a famous Chinese traditional herb. The researchers modified the chemical substances to make it more effective. 

  About 2.2 million people have SLE in China, India and Mexico. 

  In 2012, the medication cost for lupus erythematosus in seven major markets worldwide amounted to $473 million. 

  "It is estimated that the market will increase to $1.1 billion by 2020," Zuo said.