New discovery for fighting autoimmune diseases
A new study shows there may be a way to prevent certain autoimmune diseases. English researchers say they have identified a way to stop cells from destroying healthy tissue. Published in Nature Communications, the study was conducted by scientists at the University of Bristol.
Led by professor David Wraith, the group believes they have uncovered a means to convert cells from aggressively attacking tissue to developing protective properties to fight disease such as multiple sclerosis, Type 1 diabetes and lupus. Previously used in research related to allergies, this cell conversion applied to autoimmune disease is new.
Using fragments of proteins normally targeted for attack on cells can result in a correction of the autoimmune response. Researchers found that by increasing the dose of the fragment, treatment was more effective.
“Insight into antigen-specific immunotherapy opens up exciting new opportunities to enhance the selectivity of the approach while providing valuable markers with which to measure effective treatment,” said Wraith in a statement. “These findings have important implications for the many patients suffering from autoimmune conditions that are currently difficult to treat.”
By studying the insides of immune cells, researchers found changes in genes that show how the cells convert from aggressive to protective. The result leads the immune system to protect against infection while ignoring its own potentially diseased tissues.
What’s more, this approach avoids the need for immune suppressive drugs which also have severe side effects.
“Multiple sclerosis affects more than two million people worldwide,” says Dr. Allison Klotzbuecher, a family medicine physician with Advocate Medical Group in Libertyville, Ill. “Additional research that leads to life-saving treatment is needed.”
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