Diabetes Research… may help autoimmune muscle diseases
Exciting new research may lead to the development of treatments for autoimmune disease which is good news for the approximately 6000 Australians affected by the muscle diseases myasthenia gravis, Guillain-Barre Syndrome and chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP).
Diabetes researchers in San Francisco identified a distinctive type of immune cell called an ‘eTAC’, which put a damper on immune responses. This could make them useful for treating autoimmune diseases – conditions where the immune system mistakenly attacks tissues in the body. In a mouse model of diabetes, the researchers were able manipulate eTAC cells to stop the pancreas being attacked by the immune system. As a result diabetes was prevented in the mice.
It is hoped that this research on diabetes will translate into treatments for people with many different autoimmune conditions including the autoimmune neuromuscular conditions which include myasthenia gravis, Guillain-Barre Syndrome and chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP). In these conditions it is either the peripheral nerves or the neuromuscular junction that is attacked which results in muscle weakness.
Professor Mark Anderson who led this research aims to exploit eTACs therapeutically by finding out how to grow them in large numbers outside the body. “We need to figure out how to grow a lot of these cells, to load them up with whatever molecule it is that we want to induce tolerance to, and then to load them back into a patient,” he said. “Such a strategy could help selectively shut down an unwanted immune response.”
This research was published in the journal Immunity and is for download after paying a fee. The article is written in technical language with no summary in lay terms:
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