Establishing Consensus Understanding of the Barriers to Drug Development in Lupus

Yaritza Peña, Karin Tse, Leslie M. Hanrahan, Annick de Bruin, Eric F. Morand, Kenneth Getz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Due to the extreme heterogeneity of lupus and the lack of consensus among stakeholders, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies have had limited success in developing treatments for lupus. For this reason, the Lupus Foundation of America (LFA), researchers at the Center for the Study of Drug Development at Tufts University School of Medicine (Tufts CSDD) and an advisory committee of 13 international lupus experts collaborated to launch the Addressing Lupus Pillars for Health Advancement (ALPHA) project. Methods: To inform the ALPHA project, 17 in-depth interviews among lupus experts and a global survey among lupus drug development and clinical care professionals was conducted to identify, characterize, and prioritize fundamental barriers and validate findings. Results: The global survey received 127 responses from experts across 20 countries. Results of the in-depth interviews and the survey findings were consistent. Top barriers to developing new medical treatments for lupus included the lack of a clear definition of the disease with respondents identifying 30 autoimmune conditions that may be lupus-related; lack of predictive biomarkers; flaws in clinical trial designs; and a lack of reliable outcome measures. Conclusion: The study findings encourage drug development professionals to validate disease-specific measures and to identify if specific symptoms are caused by lupus. This original research also provides a methodology that can be applied to highly heterogenous diseases where low consensus on diagnosis and treatment exists among drug development and health professionals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1159-1165
Number of pages7
JournalTherapeutic Innovation & Regulatory Science
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020


  • Barriers to therapies
  • Clinical trial design
  • Drug development
  • Heterogeneity
  • Lupus

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