Ann Rheum Dis 63:ii96-ii101 doi:10.1136/ard.2004.028340
  • New targets IV

Cell therapy for autoimmune diseases: does it have a future?

  1. A Radbruch1,
  2. A Thiel2
  1. 1Cell Biology, German Rheumatism Research Centre Berlin, Berlin, Germany
  2. 2Clinical Immunology, German Rheumatism Research Centre Berlin, Germany
  1. Correspondence to:
    A Radbruch
    German Rheumatism Research Centre Berlin, Schumannstr. 21/22, 10117 Berlin, Germany;


    Almost all current therapeutic concepts in autoimmune diseases are based on the systemic suppression of immune functions and are not curative. The recent introduction of biologicals such as tumour necrosis factor blocking antibodies or receptors has added greater specificity to efficient management of disease by targeted suppression of rheumatic inflammation. It is evident, however, that only the elimination of the cells secreting inflammatory mediators, rather than the blockade of secreted molecules, will offer real specific therapeutic advantages in the future. Merely the elimination of such cells and also cells controlling the secreting effector cells could be curative and induce true long term remissions. We review here the state of the art and future therapeutic concepts that are based on the specific modulation of pathogenic cells that induce and sustain autoimmune inflammation. This sounds visionary, however, a variety of basic tools are at hand now. Thus, direct and specific cell therapy of rheumatic diseases will become a true alternative to conventional therapies.


    • This work was supported by a grant from the ‘BMBF’ (01GI9944/DRFZ C4.1).