A synthetic peptide immunomodulator designed to treat Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE).
SLE is a chronic, disabling and potentially life-threatening autoimmune disorder that involves multiple organ systems including the skin, joints, heart, lungs, blood, kidneys and, in the most severe cases, the brain. SLE can occur at any age and in any gender, but afflicts mostly women between the ages of 15 and 50. There is a significant unmet need in the treatment of SLE, as current therapies lack specificity and can often cause considerable adverse side effects. The present invention is a novel drug, designated hCDR1, that specifically targets SLE pathogenesis without causing severe side effects and may therefore constitute a potential alternative for currently used SLE drugs.
The hallmark of SLE is characterized by an increased production of pathological autoantibodies, directed against patients' own cellular antigens. In the outlined technology, a synthetic peptide was designed based on the complementarily determining region (CDR) 1 of an anti-DNA autoantibody. Treatment with this peptide ameliorated the serological and clinical manifestations of lupus in animal models of SLE. The mechanism of action of hCDR1 involves the upregulation of a subset of regulatory T cells which in turn leads to diminished production of pathogenic cytokines and to upregulation of immunosuppressive cytokines. Moreover, it was shown that hCDR1 is able to downregulate multiple biological pathways, such as apoptosis, cell migration and cell adhesion that play important roles in the pathogenesis of lupus. Taken together, treatment with hCDR1 initiates a cascade of events that culminate in the clinical improvement of SLE.