For the first time worldwide: successful SLE therapy

At the University Hospital Erlangen, a patient with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) has been completely cured for the first time. The medical novelty was realized through a CAR-T cell therapy. You can read more about the new therapy for the autoimmune disease here.

Six months after starting cell therapy, it is certain that the 20-year-old woman’s disease has completely disappeared.

SLE: rare autoimmune disease

In the autoimmune disease, the body’s own immune cells, the so-called B cells, form antibodies against their own genetic material (DNA). This causes severe inflammatory reactions in the organs. The rare disease affects 50 out of 100,000 people, mostly young women.

There are two forms of  SLE  : one affects only the skin and causes butterfly-shaped redness, the other also affects the internal organs. Those affected suffer from  joint pain , lung, heart and  kidney inflammation , for example .

CAR-T cell therapy: own immune cells fight disease

In CAR T-cell therapy (chimeric antigen receptor T-cells), medicine makes use of a method that is already being used to combat  lymph gland cancer  . Certain immune cells (T cells) are taken from the patient’s blood. The cells are then genetically modified in the laboratory, provided with a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) and returned to the body via an infusion. The change in the cells is based on the fact that they switch off the B cells, which produce antibodies against their own DNA as a result of the SLE disease.

The patient who received the new therapy for the first time tolerated the treatment very well and had no side effects. The doctors at Universitätsklinikum Erlangen are still monitoring the progress to see how long the effect of the CAR-T cell therapy lasts.

A clinical study with CAR-T cells in other patients with autoimmune diseases is now planned. The doctors describe the success as a milestone in the treatment of autoimmune diseases.

 

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