The 5th International Congress on Controversies in Rheumatology and Autoimmunity (CORA 2019) took place in Florence, Italy from 14-16 March 2019.

CORA is considered one of the major events in the field of rheumatology and autoimmunity. This year, the congress attracted approximately 1000 participants. Experts from Israel, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Spain, Hungary, the USA and France gave their presentations.

Professor M. Eric Gershwin, one of the presenters, noted that a number of new autoimmune syndromes have recently been discovered by researchers. According to Prof. Gershwin, 50 years ago only a few dozens of autoimmune diseases were known, and now there are hundreds. These findings raise further questions related to the clinical diagnosis, case management, as well as the pathogenesis of rheumatic and autoimmune disorders.

CORA 2019 covered the therapeutic methods known to date, their benefits and drawbacks. In particular, antibody-based drugs presented by pharmaceutical companies were discussed through a range of debate sessions. For instance, Lilly presented clinical data regarding ixekizumab, and GSK announced results obtained with belimumab. The Russian company Materia Medica Holding also demonstrated its achievements.

As far back as 1996, Prof. O. Epstein, the founder of the company, found that high dilutions of antibodies, unlike native antibodies, do not inhibit the activity of antigens (target molecules in the body), but modify them, which allows the use of antibodies as delicate regulators of impaired body functions.  The company’s plenary session covered the management of two disorders that largely engage autoimmunity, i.e. rheumatoid arthritis using high dilutions of antibodies to tumor necrosis factor alpha and diabetes mellitus 1 using high dilutions of antibodies to insulin receptor beta subunit. The latest data on molecular mechanisms of the drugs, non-clinical test results as well as the results of double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trials were reported. Leading experts in autoimmunity, including congress chairs Prof. Andrea Doria and Prof. Yehuda Shoenfeld, took an active part in the discussion of the reports and highly estimated the developments of Russian scientists, drawing attetion to the original mechanism of action of the drugs, their efficacy and safety, as well as the possibility of oral administration