Mysterious Still

Posted January 14, 2007 by theautoimmunityblog
Categories: General

t-cellIn the Febuary issue Nature Immunology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute researchers uncover one immune system mystery and claim more lurk in the distance.

The question is this, How does the small intestine, a veritable biosphere of helpful (but still foreign) bacteria escape the heavy hand of the immune system that is supposed to repel foreign microbes? This Science Daily article is full of immune system education.

It describes how agents of the immune system, T-cells, have different levels of alert. Dendritic cells act as informants, preventing T-cells from attacking familiar cells, self-product. In this study, stromal cells are found to be fulfilling the same function for the small intestine. T-cells take their direction from stromal cells and leave the small intestine be.

I recommend the article.  I think the relevance to autoimmunity, hinted at in the intro to the story, is that unknown systems of creating immune system tolerance to foreign agents could lead to treatments that would protect cells the immune system should not be attacking, like islet cells in diabetes patients, myelin in M.S. patients, or synovial fluid in R.A. patients.

Story: Science Daily


Antibody Therapy for Type I Diabetes

Posted January 14, 2007 by theautoimmunityblog
Categories: Diabetes (Type 1)

Islet cellThe suspect? CD137, a T-cell. The crime? Destroying islet cells. The punishment? An antibody specially tailored to attack CD137. The place? University of Pittsburg (and, uh, the pancreas too depending on your perspective).

In this case, the name of the game is prevention, not a cure. In mice that were predisposed to develop diabetes, the anti-CD137 treatment “significantly” slowed the process, but was not able to completely rid the body of CD137’s impact. The story notes that in taking other T-cells, CD4 and CD25 from the treated mice and placing them in immune-deficient mice with the same predispostion, they were able to prevent onset. I’m still scratching my head over how that last part works. Why would the anti-CD137 treatment have any impact on CD4 and CD25? What happened to the CD137 T-cells in the recipient mice, the ones where onset was prevented? The way the story goes, it explains everything except why the transfer of CD4 and CD25 cells had the preventive impact that it did.

The most valuable part of the study seems to be that it verifies the key role of CD137. Given the scope of the immune system, being able to identify your enemy is a good place to start treatment.


Building a Better Lab Rat

Posted January 14, 2007 by theautoimmunityblog
Categories: Rheumatoid Arthritis

 Forbes reports that researchers at the Mayo Clinic have developed an importantA Better Lab Rat research tool in the fight against Rheumatoid Arthritis, a lab rat that mimics the human course of the disease.  These transgenic mice have had a gene associated with R.A. risk in humans spliced into their genome and are showing expected signs of the disease, including the R.A. gender gap.

Obviously it helps to have research subjects that do not have constitutional rights, allowing researchers to study the disease more closely under lab conditions, and test treatments more thoroughly and quickly.

Story: Forbes

Why do bad things happen to good cells?

Posted January 14, 2007 by theautoimmunityblog
Categories: General

T cell in actionDisease is often associated with weakness and inability.  While an infection signals that your immune system is falling behind the microbes that are always in our bodies, autoimmune diseases signal exactly the opposite, that your immune system is fully operational.  At least the final execution stage is.  It’s in such good shape it need not limit itself to attacking disease, it can branch out and attack you as well.

The methods by which the body trains the immune system to sort the good cells (your own) from the bad (foreign cells) is still a mystery.  But in people with autoimmune diseases there is something wrong with the training process.  Your immune system fails to properly sort the good from the bad and attacks your body.  Many very different diseases, from arthritis to diabetes to skin diseases have their root in an overactive immune system.

The Era we now live in is one of rampant scientific discovery. Never before has science been so well funded.  Never before has technology advanced so quickly.  This blog will serve as an information depot pointing you to advances and news regarding autoimmune diseases, collecting the experiences and telling the stories of those afflicted.  Part of my mission is to learn more about these diseases.  Hopefully in the process, I can spread the wealth and help explain what these diseases are and what we know about them.

Medical advice will not be given here and no information provided by this blogger or commentors should be relied on as medical advice.  If you are suffering from an autoimmune disease or think you might be, seek medical attention and rely on your doctor’s advice and your own research.   I’m a writer, not a doctor.

Your input is welcome.  Stop in and leave your suggestions, comments or corrections in the comments section.