Increased understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying the pathogenenesis of autoimmune rheumatic diseases has led to targeted biological treatments that modulate various aspects of the immune response. These new treatments, together with more judicious use of other immunosuppressive drugs, have resulted in marked improvements in morbidity and mortality. Although belimumab, an agent that inhibits B-cell survival, is the first drug to be approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of systemic lupus erythematosus in 50 years, many other immunological targets are under investigation. We discuss the recent advances in the biological treatment of autoimmune rheumatic diseases, with a particular focus on systemic lupus erythematosus.
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