Young is cured of lupus after experimental immunogenetic therapy
Good news for all lupus patients!
A young woman diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) received, in March 2021, experimental immunogenetic therapy as a last resort in her treatment. Six months later, the 20-year-old girl named Thu-Thao V is completely cured of her symptoms, with no signs of relapse. The findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Thu-Thao V was still 16 years old when she had the first symptoms of lupus. The disease, like arthritis and sclerosis, for example, is autoimmune. In other words, a dysfunction in the immune system causes the body’s defense cells to attack the patient’s own tissues.
In the case of SLE, the B lymphocytes start to produce antibodies against the cells of the heart, kidneys, and skin mainly. The disease prevented Thu-Thao V, for example, from practicing physical activities, due to pain in the joints and palpitations. In many cases, lupus can be fatal.
Thus, doctors at the University-Hospital Erlangen decided to try an experimental immunogenetic therapy, used for some types of cancer, to fight Thu-Thao V SLE. It is noteworthy, moreover, that all traditional treatments for lupus had failed in the case of young, such as hydroxychloroquine, steroids, and even other B-cell-based immunogenetic therapy.
Now, six months after applying the treatment, the young woman was able to play sports, sleep better, and had a significant decrease in palpitations and fluid retention. According to the doctors, Thu-Thao V shows no signs of relapse of the disease.
The immunogenetic therapy used in the case of Thu-Thao V has been initially used to fight aggressive types of cancer, such as leukemias and lymphomas. The Chimeric T-cell Antigen Receptor (from English, chimeric antigen receptor T-cell or CAR T cell) is based on genetically modifying a patient’s T cells.
In other words, the doctors collected the T cells (also part of the immune system) from the young woman, and genetically edited them in the laboratory. This edition aims to make these cells start to destroy or inactivate a specific target in the body.
Because Thu-Thao V had a type of B cell that was causing lupus, the researchers programmed the T cells to attack dysfunctional relatives. Thus, B cells with autoimmune antibodies underwent inactivation by genetically modified T cells.
Of course, the whole process seems more accessible than it actually was. Even doctors claim, in a statement, that applying the technique was the last resort, as nothing else had worked.
With the impressive results obtained, the team of doctors and researchers is now looking to initiate clinical trials to treat people with systemic lupus erythematosus.