Scientists from the University of Bristol have made an important discovery in the fight against autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS). According to Science Daily, their research has uncovered a way to turn off the cells that attack healthy body tissue – the cause of autoimmune disorders.
In this groundbreaking study, published in the journal Nature Communications, researchers have discovered how the cells go from helping the body fight disease to becoming aggressive and attacking the body instead.
The Bristol scientists explored the immune cells themselves to see which genes and proteins were turned on or off by the treatment and were able to able to target these aggressive cells and convert them into cells that are capable of protecting the body instead. It is believed that this important discovery could provide hope to millions of people worldwide who suffer from debilitating autoimmune disorders such as type 1 diabetes, Graves’ disease, and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Research has shown similar types of cell conversion when applied to allergies, but the application to autoimmune diseases has only recently been appreciated. Because the immunotherapeutic approach targets the cells that cause the disease, the researchers state that this will then help to avoid the need for drugs that suppress the immune system which can have debilitating side effects themselves such as infection, tumours and disrupting natural regulatory mechanisms.
The hope is that this finding and its subsequent clinical development could provide a new way of life for millions of people across the globe who suffer from autoimmune disorders