Immune System Research Could Bring New Treatments for MS, Diabetes
In autoimmune disorders, malfunctioning immune cells turn against the body.
These cells attack the protective sheaths that surround neurons in the brain, which can eventually lead to a host of symptoms and conditions like paralysis, and in some cases be fatal.
Now, imagine if these wayward cells could be influenced to control the disease, rather than fuel it.
Research presented today at a meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS) shows that it’s possible — and could be a game-changer — when it comes to treating autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis (MS) and type 1 diabetes.
Read more: Get the facts on autoimmune diseases »
Current methods imprecise
While current immunotherapies can yield positive results, they tend to deal in broad strokes.
This approach can affect and potentially compromise the entire immune system, rather than dealing with just the cells that are causing problems.
Christopher Jewell, PhD, associate professor in the bioengineering department at the University of Maryland, and lead researcher on the study released today, told Healthline that his team set out to develop a form of immunotherapy that specifically targeted the problematic cells, leaving the rest of the immune system alone.
“We are working on autoimmune disease, where the body’s immune system mistakenly recognizes and attacks its own cells or tissues,” Jewell wrote in an email. “In multiple sclerosis, myelin — the matrix that insulates neurons — gets attacked by malfunctioning immune cells entering the brain. Existing therapies have been beneficial for patients, but Continue reading