UT Researchers At Forefront Of Efforts To Stem The Tide Of Autoimmune Diseases PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 27 December 2009 13:40
Autoimmune and autoinflammatory diseases are on the rise and researchers and physicians at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston are at the forefront of efforts to stem the tide. These diseases are often hard to diagnose and often affect individuals differently.

Autoimmune and autoinflammatory diseases occur when a person's immune system attacks his or her own tissues. In autoimmune diseases, there usually are circulating immune markers, which help in diagnosis. These diseases, which include rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes and Scleroderma, also tend to run in the same families and share many of the same genes. Autoinflammatorydiseases do not show these same markers but are increasingly being linked to infections or specific gene mutations. These diseases include ankylosing spondylitis, Familial Mediterranean Fever and TRAPS.

"We have recently seen a wave of new discoveries of causes and treatments of autoimmune diseases," said John D. Reveille, M.D., the George S. Bruce, Jr. Professor in Arthritis and Other Rheumatic Diseases and the Linda and Ronny Finger Foundation Distinguished Chair in Neuroimmunologic Disorders at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston. "Here at the UT Health Science Center at Houston, we are riding the crest of that wave, which will bring better lives to our patients and their families."

There are more than 80 autoimmune and autoinflammatory diseases. Tens of millions of Americans suffer from these diseases and their numbers are growing, reports the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association. Women are three times more likely to develop an autoimmune disease than men.

Cutting-edge research at the UT Health Science Center at Houston includes the discovery of 10 to 15 genes that predispose people toward Scleroderma, Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis and the unearthing of four genes tied to ankylosing spondylitis.

With the aid of sophisticated equipment that compares the DNA of healthy and ill individuals, UT researchers are now searching for additional genes linked to Scleroderma, which affects about 300,000 people in the United States. Researchers are also exploring the impact of silica and other environmental factors on Scleroderma, a chronic connective tissue disease causing thickening (fibrosis) of the skin, blood vessels, lungs and other organs.

"We were the first to show that Scleroderma had a significant genetic component and was, in fact, an autoimmune disease," said Frank Arnett, Jr., M.D., clinical professor, the Elizabeth Bidgood Chair in Rheumatology and the Linda K. Finger Chair in Autoimmune and Connective TissueDiseases at the UT Medical School at Houston.

The UT Health Science Center, according to Arnett, is the nation's largest Scleroderma research center. The university received a five-year, $7.5 million grant to establisha Center of Research Translation devoted to Scleroderma in 2006 and a five-year, $6 million grant to identify Scleroderma genes through human genome-wide association studies in 2008. Both grants are funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Arnett said research shows that Scleroderma shares many susceptibility genes with lupus, a chronic inflammatory disease, and other autoimmunediseases . This means that one day researchers may be able to more specifically target the causative pathways in each of these conditions.

For a link to the original article, click here.
 
More articles :

» Is Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension Really a Late Complication of Systemic Sclerosis?

Eric Hachulla, MD, PhD; David Launay, MD, PhD; Luc Mouthon, MD, PhD; Olivier Sitbon, MD, PhD; Alice Berezne, MD; Loïc Guillevin, MD; Pierre-Yves Hatron, MD; Ge´rald Simonneau, MD; Pierre Clerson, MD; and Marc Humbert, MD, PhD;Pulmonary arterial...

» Dealing With Joint Pain

In a , Dr. Peter Got noted that the common causes of joint pain include autoimmune disorders, lupus, of the bone, , (that can lead to muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness in the shoulders and hips), gout, , bone cancer, , psoriatic arthritis, ,...

» arGentis Continues To Expand

But arGentis grew its drug-development pipeline this month with the acquisition of the rights to a rheumatoid arthritis therapy from the - the terms of which, were not disclosed. The treatment was developed at the University of Tennessee Health...

» What are the Early Symptoms of Scleroderma?

Scleroderma is a term used to describe a group of rare, chronic diseases characterized by unusual tightening and hardening of the connective tissues and skin. There are two major types of : localized, which only affects the skin; and systemic, which...

» Dermatomyositis

Dermatomyositis is one of a group of muscle diseases known as the inflammatory myopathies, which are characterized by chronic muscle inflammation accompanied by muscle weakness. Dermatomyositis’ cardinal symptom is a skin rash that precedes or...

» The Role of Intravenous Immunoglobulin Preparations in the Treatment of Systemic Sclerosis

Marta Baleva and Krasimir NikolovReceived 12 June 2011; Revised 28 August 2011; Accepted 28 August 2011Scleroderma is progressive autoimmune disease associated with severe disability. The major underlying pathological process in Scleroderma is...