Translational Mini-Review Series on B Cell-Directed Therapies: Recent advances in B cell-directed biological therapies for autoimmune disorders

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SummaryB cell-directed therapies are promising treatments for autoimmune disorders. Besides targeting CD20, newer B cell-directed therapies are in development that target other B cell surface molecules and differentiation factors. An increasing number of B cell-directed therapies are in development for the treatment of autoimmune disorders. Like rituximab, which is approved as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), many of these newer agents deplete B cells or target pathways essential for B cell development and function; however, many questions remain about their optimal use in the clinic and about the role of B cells in disease pathogenesis. Other therapies besides rituximab that target CD20 are the furthest along in development. Besides targeting CD20, the newer B cell-directed therapies target CD22, CD19, CD40-CD40L, B cell activating factor belonging to the TNF family (BAFF) and A proliferation-inducing ligand (APRIL). Rituximab is being tested in an ever-increasing number of autoimmune disorders and clinical studies of rituximab combined with other biological therapies are being pursued for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). B cell-directed therapies are being tested in clinical trials for a variety of autoimmune disorders including RA, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), Sjögren's syndrome, vasculitis, multiple sclerosis (MS), Graves' disease, idiopathic thrombocytopenia (ITP), the inflammatory myopathies (dermatomyositis and polymyositis) and the blistering skin diseases pemphigus and bullous pemphigoid. Despite the plethora of clinical studies related to B cell-directed therapies and wealth of new information from these trials, much still remains to be discovered about the pathophysiological role of B cells in autoimmune disorders.

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