Although the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis and other rheumatic diseases is still not fully understood, it has become clear that in many cases autoimmune responses with production of autoantibodies against physiological targets play a significant and causal role. Current immunosuppressive and immunomodulatory approaches such as bone marrow transplantation or the therapeutic antibody rituximab are effective, but unspecific and have serious side effects. Here, a method for targeted elimination of specific autoreactive B-cells which are essential for autoantibody production and maintenance of the autoimmune response is proposed. By binding to their receptive antigens linked to magnetic nanoparticles, the autoreactive B-cells can be separated from the rest of the blood in an extracorporeal filtration process, reducing the number of autoimmune cells and autoantibodies in the blood. The method can be adapted for use in different autoimmune diseases provided some key aspects of pathogenesis are known, and can be repeated if necessary. Evidence for feasibility and safety of this method is briefly reviewed, and potential limitations and hurdles to overcome are discussed.
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