New treatment approach for the autoimmune disease lupus

New treatment approach for the autoimmune disease lupus

Autoimmune disease lupus erythematosus curable in the future?
Lupus erythematosus is an autoimmune disease that mostly affects the skin, but can also occur in a systemic form and thereby affects other organs. In the worst case, fatal multi-organ failure threatens. So far, the treatment options have essentially been limited to lifelong immunosuppression. However, scientists at MedUni Vienna have now tried a new approach to treating lupus erythematosus. Their results were published in the "Experimental Dermatology" magazine.

The research group has discovered new options for the therapy of autoimmune systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) in the animal model, according to the MedUni Vienna. Blocking the messenger substance interleukin-6 prevented its docking to the cell receptors and thus the development of inflammation, reports the team led by Peter Birner (MedUni Vienna) and Lukas Kenner (MedUni Vienna, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna and Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Cancer research). On the basis of this method, there would be a chance of healing for those affected.

Blocking IL-6 prevents inflammation
Together with researchers from Graz, Germany and Japan, the scientists at MedUni Vienna have for the first time provided experimental evidence that "blocking IL-6 in SLE in animal models can have a significant healing effect," reports MedUni Vienna. It had already been known from previous studies that the production of interleukin 6 (IL-6) from skin keratinocytes plays a key role in the development and progression of the disease in autoimmune diseases such as SLE. In their current study, the researchers therefore tested whether the binding of IL-6 to the receptor (IL-6R alpha) can be blocked with new drugs. Corresponding "data for the positive effect of an IL-6 blockade" were already available for rheumatoid arthritis, but so far there has been no scientific knowledge of the benefits of these therapies for SLE, reports the MedUni Vienna. At least in the animal model, proof of the benefit has now been provided. "The treated mice showed a significant decrease in skin lesions up to their complete remission," said the university.

Great progress in therapy?
According to the first author Peter Birner from the Clinical Institute of Pathology, "Blocking IL-6 receptor alpha could represent a novel and low-side effect therapy option for SLE patients with primary skin involvement." This would be a major step forward in the treatment of this severe chronic disease continued Birner. "It is to be hoped that a significant improvement in symptoms as well as a significant extension of life can be achieved by delaying invasive surgery," added Lukas Kenner in the press release from MedUni Vienna. So far, it was only possible to reduce the inflammatory processes through lifelong use of immunosuppressive drugs, which, however, sometimes causes serious side effects. (fp)

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