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Research may have applications to autoimmune disorders

A recent research discovery may have broad applications to the treatment of autoimmune disorders. Researchers have discovered a protective, natural response system that may explain why some individuals are able to remain healthy, despite being at-risk for certain genetic conditions.

The discovery was actually accidental. Researchers were screening more than 54,000 genes from the blood samples of 13 patients with an autoimmune skin disorder called Pemphigus vulgaris, or PV. Researchers also had a control group of 10 patients, as well as eight patients in remission.

Although certain patients in the group appeared to be at risk for developing the disease, certain responses in those patients had also suppressed, or down-regulated the at-risk genes, allowing the patients to remain healthy. Researchers are hopeful that the discovery may have applications to other autoimmune conditions. 

Type 1 diabetes is an example of an autoimmune disorder. The immune system of a patient with this condition is dysfunctional, attacking the cells that make insulin. Since insulin is the hormone that delivers blood glucose to cells, such individuals may be at risk for elevated blood sugar levels and resulting complications, such as kidney damage or heart disease.

With insulin supplements and dietary restrictions, a Type 1 diabetic might be able to maintain a fairly stable blood sugar level. In severe cases, however, fatigue and other symptoms may prevent a worker with diabetes from working. When that happens, a Social Security disability insurance attorney might be able to provide help. An attorney familiar with disability benefits may have advice on how to submit a winning application to the Social Security Administration.

Source: buffalo.edu, “Study of skin disease reveals clues to autoimmune conditions,” Ellen Goldbaum, Sept. 26, 2013

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