UCB and Immunomedics have announced positive results from a 12-week study to examine the effects of epratuzumab in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

The dose and regimen study showed positive clinical results for the drug versus placebo in 227 cases with moderate to severely active disease in multiple organ systems.

Epratuzumab was developed by Immunomedics and licensed to UCB for all autoimmune disease indications in 2006 and is a humanised anti-CD22 monoclonal antibody with the potential to modulate B cell activity.

B cells are known to contribute to SLE by producing antibodies against the body’s own cells and tissues, causing the immune system to attack itself, resulting in inflammation and tissue damage.

UCB chief executive officer Roch Doliveux said that epratuzumab is the most advanced pipeline programme in UCB’s immunology disease portfolio.

“These results provide hope for hundreds of thousands of people around the world living with SLE as no new treatment has been approved for this disease for over five decades,” Doliveux said.

In-depth analysis of the data is ongoing in preparation of the Phase III programme.