Researchers identify gene involved
in autoimmune disease
have identified a gene that appears to be a critical factor in
autoimmune disease, according to a study published in the July
26 issue of Science. The research, performed by scientists at
the U.Va. and University of Vermont medical school and colleagues
at other universities, might provide a unique view of the molecular
defects underlying autoimmune disease.
disorder that occurs when an affected individuals
immune system launches attacks on its own tissue confusing
itself as a foreign invader.
It is responsible for various disorders such as multiple
sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.
molecular techniques to study the genetic material from autoimmune
disease-susceptible mice, scientists were able to identify a region
of the mouse chromosome, and subsequently a gene, that correlates
with autoimmune disease. The gene of interest encodes a protein
that functions as a receptor for histamine, a signaling molecule
involved in immune responses.
therapies for autoimmune disease, which merely suppress the affected
individuals immune system, necessitate new and more specific
treatments, said Dr. Kenneth S. K. Tung, U.Va. professor of pathology
and co-investigator of the study.
a mouse model to study autoimmune disease will have a definite
impact on the understanding of human autoimmune disease, as genes
that cause disease in mice have been found to be concordant with
autoimmune causing genes in humans, Tung said. The
next progression of this study will be to understand the role
of the histamine receptor in autoimmune disease and, more importantly,
to determine whether a parallel set of events occurs in human
research presented in this study may prove significant not only
for the understanding of autoimmune disease but also for other
illnesses. Its becoming clear that the responses and
regulatory elements that cause autoimmune disease also apply to
the bodys response to cancer and tissue grafts. So if we
can understand how autoimmune disease is regulated, then you can
apply the same knowledge to prevent tissue graft rejection or
promote cancer immunity and improve vaccine effects, Tung