Pioneering CAR T-Cell Therapy Offers Hope for Lupus Treatment, UC Davis Health Study Shows

Individuals with lupus face the harsh reality of a condition without a cure, relying on medications to manage symptoms and prevent flare-ups.

However, researchers at UC Davis Health are pioneering a new approach to improve the lives of lupus patients. Their groundbreaking clinical trial explores CAR T-cell therapy as a potential treatment for this autoimmune disease.

Lupus, formally known as Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), is a chronic autoimmune disorder where the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues, particularly B cells, leading to inflammation and organ damage in various parts of the body.

Lupus nephritis (LN), a subtype affecting the kidneys, poses serious risks, including kidney failure if untreated. Dr. Gaurav Gulati, the study’s principal investigator, highlighted the urgent need for more effective treatments for lupus, given the limitations and side effects of current therapies.

With approximately 1.5 million Americans and five million worldwide affected by lupus, finding targeted and efficient treatments is crucial.

CAR T-cell therapy, already approved for certain cancers, shows promise for lupus treatment. By modifying T cells to produce chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) targeting B cells, researchers aim to combat the autoimmune response responsible for lupus symptoms.

A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine underscores the potential of CAR T-cell therapy for lupus patients resistant to conventional treatments.

The study, which included lupus patients along with those with scleroderma and idiopathic inflammatory myositis, demonstrated promising results.

A single infusion of CAR T cells effectively reduced symptoms and disease biomarkers, with no relapses observed in lupus patients over a two-year follow-up period.

This innovative approach offers hope for individuals battling lupus, marking a significant step towards improved treatment outcomes and enhanced quality of life.