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Krill Oil: A Potential New Relief Option for Lupus?

Worldwide more than five million people are affected by lupus—a chronic autoimmune disease that affects the body's skin, tissue, organs and joints. There is no cure for the condition and current research has offered little progress, even to help manage symptoms. Together with Lupus Research Alliance, Aker BioMarine has launched a new trial that investigates phospholipid-rich krill oil as a natural alternative aimed at alleviating symptoms associated with the disease.

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), better known as lupus, is an incurable and chronic autoimmune disease that affects an estimated five million people worldwide. Lupus can attack any part of the body—tissue, skin, organs, or joints—and causes inflammation, pain, and damage. Complications can include damage to the kidneys, blood, the heart and lungs and symptoms can range from mild to severe. The disease is most often diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 45, and 90% of people with lupus are female.

While lupus patients can live full lives, there is no cure for this autoimmune disease. This is why Aker BioMarine and Lupus Research Alliance (the world’s leading private funder of lupus research) have initiated a new clinical study to investigate how phospholipid-rich krill oil can benefit people with lupus, with the aim to lessen the severity of symptoms associated with the disease. Collaborating with Lupus Research Alliance on the study’s design and protocols, Aker BioMarine is the financial sponsor of the trial and will provide the clinical material throughout the duration of the study while AMPEL BioSolutions, the subcontractor engaged by Lupus Research Alliance, will conduct the trial.  

Advance lupus research

Little headway has been made in the search for new drugs or biological products that can help people with lupus. This issue was acutely highlighted by the Lupus Research Alliance’s Lupus Drug Repositioning Program, launched back in 2014. 

Realising the dire need for new lupus treatments, Aker BioMarine decided to join this clinical study years ago after being approached by Lupus Research Alliance. This new trial, which started in late August, involves 20 research centres and 76 patients diagnosed with lupus. The trial is designed to assess how people with lupus may benefit from consuming phospholipid-rich krill oil daily. Each individual will consume a daily dose of phospholipid-rich krill oil over 12 months. The first six months are blinded, with one placebo control group and one treatment group, followed by an open six-month period where both groups are given krill oil. 

Battling lupus with krill

“This trial reflects our responsiveness to patient wishes— a treatment that is safe and has the potential to attenuate lupus disease as well as the associated cardiovascular complications associated with it,” explains Dr. Jane Salmon, the coordinating investigator of the study, director of the Lupus APS Center of Excellence and co-director of the Mary Kirkland Center for Lupus Research, both of whom are based at Hospital for Special Surgery, New York.

 “There is a great possibility that the molecules from krill can potentially reduce the symptoms associated with lupus and we are extremely proud to be able to work with the Lupus Research Alliance on this ground-breaking trial,” said Matts Johansen, CEO at Aker BioMarine. “There has been only one new drug developed to treat lupus in 60 years, which is why we are going all in to dedicate our resources to try to provide a natural alternative for people with lupus.”

Our planet is made up of 70% ocean, yet only half a percent of all the medicines in the world are coming from them. Is it possible that many solutions to big medical riddles come from the oceans?

Results are expected in 2020. Visit Science for Lupus to read more about the trial. 

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