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Scientists Spot Key Autoimmune Disease Genes

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posted on Jan, 23 2007 @ 01:08 AM
Experts say that this discovery could unlock secrets to lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and even cancer.

Now, researchers reporting this week in the journal Nature have identified a set of genes closely linked to regulatory T-cell function. The finding could have important implications for research into autoimmune disease and even cancer, experts say.

"This is certainly important in trying to understand how these regulatory T-cells work," said Dr. Noel Rose, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Autoimmune Disease Research in Baltimore. "Whether this will have important functional implications, only time will tell," said Rose, who was not involved in the study.


The complexity of the immune system and its ability to protect us is astounding. It enables us to identify and destroy invaders (bacteria, viruses, etc) and survey our own cells to prevent them from growing uncontrollably (cancer) while, also differentiating our normal cells from intrinsic abnormalities and foreign invaders.

When this balance is messed up, our own immune system actually gets confused, and can attack our own joints, muscles, blood vessels and kidneys. T-cells are supposed to keep the immune system in check and prevent the forementioned. However, genetic defects can cause T-cells to fail. If we can learn to control the number of T-cells, then they wouldn't get overwhelmed when the body is confused (and going overboard on anti-bodies).

Sounds good to me--another example of the potentially awesome benefits from the field of genetics. As the article mentions this could also benefit cancer patients. Undoubtedly, the 21st century will see some huge advances in biomolecular science.


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