News - 22 Mar `19A New Direction in Treatments for Autoimmune Diseases

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In autoimmune diseases, like vitiligo, the over-protective body's immune system mistakenly attacks stressed-out cells, believing them to be intruders. Specialized ‘killer’ T-cells neutralize these ‘enemies’ - driving autoimmune response and, with it, progressive skin depigmentation.

Current treatments for autoimmune conditions rely on inactivating the 'crazy' immune cells that mistakenly identify and attack the body's own healthy cells. However, a major downside of existing therapies is that they may end up inactivating not just the specific immune cells causing the damage, but also other immune cells that are functioning normally. In case of vitiligo, this would leave the skin exposed to all kinds of diseases and infections.

A new research paper recently published in Nature Biomedical Engineering demonstrate the possibility of deactivating only rogue immune cells, while preserving normal immune cells so they can continue to do their job. The work of a team from University of Utah Health in Salt Lake City focuses on programmed cell death protein cells that play a key role in regulating the immune response. The researchers tested the new approach in a mouse model of diabetes type I and multiple sclerosis, and saw encouraging results. The lead researcher of the study, Peng Zhao, Ph.D., says "If we can generate the human version of therapeutics, I think we could make a huge impact in treating an autoimmune disease."

Check out our related post: Temprian Therapeutics Inc. from Chicago, IL brings HSP70i back to spotlight as a potential therapy for vitiligo

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