- Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic multisystem autoimmune disease predominantly affecting women of childbearing age.
- New classification criteria for SLE have greater sensitivity and therefore improve the diagnostic certainty for some patients, especially those who may previously have been labelled as having undifferentiated symptoms.
- Uncontrolled disease activity leads to irreversible end-organ damage, which in turn increases the risk of premature death; early and sustained control of disease activity can usually be achieved by conventional immunosuppressant therapy.
- The development of biological therapy lags behind that for other rheumatic diseases, with belimumab being the only targeted therapy approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
- “Treat-to-target” concepts are changing trial design and clinical practice, with evidence-based definition of response criteria in the form of remission and low disease activity now on the horizon.
- While new therapies are awaited, research should also focus on optimising the use of current therapy and improving the quality of care of patients with SLE.