Corbus Pharmaceuticals is encouraging rheumatologists to think about the totality of systemic sclerosis in a new awareness campaign. The intention is to draw attention to the fact that while symptoms of the autoimmune disease are often treated with different therapies, looking at the broader picture is important.
The campaign comes as Corbus completes a phase 3 trial for its candidate to treat systemic sclerosis, having administered the last trial dose two weeks ago. Top-line data are expected later this summer and, if positive, the company will begin talks with regulators, Corbus CEO Yuval Cohen said. The campaign is awareness-only with no mention of Corbus or its potential medicine.
“What’s appropriate at this time is, 'Let’s talk about disease education. Let’s get people familiarized with this disease that has a lot of issues that go along with it,'” he said.
Systemic sclerosis, also known as scleroderma, is an autoimmune disease that causes hardening and tightening of skin and joints and affects 70,000 to 90,000 Americans. That means it’s not an ultra-rare disease, but still it's relatively unknown, Cohen said—and for an autoimmune disease, it's devastating in its toll, with only 1 in 2 patients surviving the disease.
The center of the campaign is an educational website with relevant scientific information on systemic sclerosis. The campaign focus is to ask to healthcare professionals to consider and evaluate the totality of the disease.
“Obviously this is a very well-educated audience—they’re physicians who are treating these patients—but nevertheless, not all of them might be at the cutting edge of the latest science, not all may quite understand the totality of the disease. Some physicians, for example, might be seeing a lot of systemic sclerosis patients, while some may not,” Cohen said.
Corbus’ candidate, lenabasum, snagged FDA orphan drug status as well as a fast-track designation in the treatment of systemic sclerosis. If the drug moves forward and gains approval, it would be the first OK for Corbus, which is also in clinical trials with potential treatments for cystic fibrosis, dermatomyositis and systemic lupus erythematosus.