Available by prescription only, Benlysta is used to reduce the symptoms of lupus. The medication is given by injection in a healthcare setting. Side effects can include diarrhea, nausea, and common cold symptoms. This drug works to suppress the immune system by blocking a substance within the body called soluble human B lymphocyte stimulator protein (BLyS).
Benlysta® (belimumab) is a prescription medication approved to treat systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). It belongs to a group of medicines called monoclonal antibodies.
Benlysta is manufactured by Human Genome Sciences, Inc., and is jointly marketed by Human Genome Sciences, Inc., and GlaxoSmithKline.
An antibody (also known as an immunoglobulin) is a protein made by the immune system. Antibodies bind to substances in the body called antigens. Benlysta is a synthetic (manufactured) antibody that binds to and blocks the actions of an antigen called soluble human B lymphocyte stimulator protein (BLyS).
BLyS helps B cells survive, and by blocking BLyS, Benlysta shortens the lifespan of B cells. B cells are a type of white blood cell important in the immune system. This action suppresses the immune system's inappropriate attack on the body, helping to reduce the symptoms of lupus.
Studies suggest that the benefits of Benlysta are modest. For instance, in one study, 34 percent of people given standard lupus treatment showed improvement, compared to 43 percent of people given Benlysta plus standard lupus treatment.