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Destruction of B cells cures lupus

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13.03.2019

Lupus is difficult to cure. Despite the fact that many affected by this autoimmune disease live relatively normal lives, some of them suffer from renal failure, blood clots and other complications, some of which can be fatal. Meanwhile, scientists found out that a novel treatment that removes B cells from the immune system makes mice overcome lupus. Whereas the study is of an initiatory nature, it has already attracted the interest of scientific units with the fact that it employs an already approved therapy for people combatting blood cancer.

Jennifer Anolik, a rheumatologist who runs the lupus clinic at the University of Rochester Medical Centre in New York and has not been involved in the research work, describes it as a major step forward.

This treatment strategy is known as the therapy of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR-T). It is based upon genetically modified T cells - the "sentinels" of the immune system that recognise hostile cells within the organism. Although a therapy of this kind entails potentially serious side effects, it can still turn out to save one's life. It made its debut in the course of cancer treatment in 2011 and after scientists announced having saved patients with an advanced form of leukemia. CAR-T has been approved with regard to the treatment of certain types of leukemia in children and lymphomas in adult patients since then. Despite the fact that the therapy may target various cells, the said case involved using it to destroy B cells by detecting CD19 ? a protein marker that is present in the surfaces of nearly all B cells.

B cells are involved in a number of diseases, not only being capable of releasing autoantibodies that damage bodily tissues but also provoking T cells to attack tissues. The mechanism is similar to the one observed in patients with cancer being subject to CAR-T therapy. The outcome of the treatment came as a surprise even to its own creators. The animal's spleens, skin, kidneys and other parts of their bodies demonstrated no signs of lupus after having been examined. Scientists hope for the future use of treatments of this kind on a larger scale.

Source: Sciencemag

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