Systemic Sclerosis and Fibrotic Conditions

Targeted Therapy in Systemic Sclerosis

Murray Baron


Targeted therapies use an understanding of the pathophysiology of a disease in an individual patient. Although targeted therapy for systemic sclerosis (SSc, scleroderma) has not yet reached the level of patient-specific treatments, recent developments in the understanding of the global pathophysiology of the disease have led to new treatments based on the cells and pathways that have been shown to be involved in the disease pathogenesis. The presence of a B cell signature in skin biopsies has led to the trial of rituximab, an anti-CD20 antibody, in SSc. The well-known properties of transforming growth factor (TGF)-β in promoting collagen synthesis and secretion has led to a small trial of fresolimumab, a human IgG4 monoclonal antibody capable of neutralizing TGF-β. Evidence supporting important roles for interleukin-6 in the pathogenesis of SSc have led to a large trial of tocilizumab in SSc. Soluble guanylate cyclase (sGC) is an enzyme that catalyzes the production of cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) upon binding of nitric oxide (NO) to the sGC molecule. Processes such as cell growth and proliferation are regulated by cGMP. Evidence that sGC may play a role in SSc has led to a trial of riociguat, a molecule that sensitizes sGC to endogenous NO. Tyrosine kinases (TKs) are involved in a wide variety of physiologic and pathological processes including vascular remodeling and fibrogenesis such as occurs in SSc. This has led to a trial of nintedanib, a next-generation tyrosine-kinase (TK) inhibitor which targets multiple TKs, in SSc.

Rambam Maimonides Med J 2016;7(4):e0030