Combining antigen and immunomodulators: Emerging trends in antigen-specific immunotherapy for autoimmunity

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A majority of current therapies for autoimmune diseases are general immunosuppressants, which can compromise patient response to opportunistic infection and lead to adverse events. Using antigen-specific immunotherapy (ASIT) to selectively disarm autoimmune diseases, without suppressing the global immune response, would be a transformative therapy for patients. ASIT has been used historically in allergy hyposensitization therapy to induce tolerance to an allergen. Similar strategies to induce immune tolerance toward autoantigens responsible for autoimmune disease have been attempted but have yielded limited clinical success. Recent studies of ASIT for autoimmunity have explored combination therapy, combining the disease-causing autoantigen with an immunomodulatory compound. ASIT combination therapy may direct the immune response in an antigen-specific manner, potentially reversing the root cause of autoimmunity while limiting side effects. This review analyzes recent advances in ASIT applied to autoimmune diseases, emphasizing current combination therapies and future strategies.

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