Treating skin and lung fibrosis in systemic sclerosis: a future filled with promise?

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Graphical abstractHighlightsThere is a high unmet clinical need in the treatment of fibrosis in SSc.Available therapies failed to show antifibrotic effects or have borderline efficacy.Novel promising treatment concepts include autologous stem cell transplantation.There is a large list of promising molecular targeted therapies in development.Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is a rare autoimmune disorder characterized by immune activation, vascular damage and an excessive accumulation of extracellular matrix proteins in the skin and internal organs. Despite its high morbidity and increased mortality, currently available treatment options for fibrotic manifestations of SSc remain limited and their clinical antifibrotic effects are borderline. In this review, novel insights from recently published clinical trials in SSc on treatment concepts such as mycophenolate mofetil, oral type I collagen, recombinant human relaxin and autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation are discussed. In the past decade the most significant progress in this field has been made by the identification of a large number of cellular and molecular key players in the pathogenesis of fibrotic disease manifestations. This has led to the identification of novel candidates as molecular targets for treatment of fibrotic diseases. On the basis of their level of evidence from preclinical studies and based on the availability of first clinical results, the most promising targets are presented including inhibitors of B-cells, tyrosine kinases, 5-hydroxytryptamin receptors, interleukin-6 and Wnt signalling.

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