AUG 10, 2016 08:35 PM PDT

New Lupus Treatment Restores Immune Balance

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker
A cancer treatment from the 1990s may not be commonly used now, but a new study from Monash University shows that it could be very effective: not for cancer, but for lupus.

Lupus, or systemic lupus erythematosus, is an autoimmune disease characterized by the imbalance of activity between the effector and regulator helper T cells of the immune system. Researchers estimate that this chronic disease, which can cause damage to virtually any organ in the body, affects more than 1.5 million Americans, most often women between the ages of 15 and 44.
Credit: Medical News Today`
Current treatments for lupus come from immunosuppressive drugs, but they are often minimally effective. The present study suggests a new way to restore balance to the immune system in order to relieve the symptoms for patients with the disease.

The magic ingredient in this treatment? Interleukin (IL)-2. In their study, researchers gave IL-2 to lupus patients who weren’t being helped with the existing lupus treatments, in much lower doses than administered to patients when the treatment was used to treat cancer.

“It calms the hyperactive immune system through multiple mechanisms,” said Professor Eric Morand, founder of the Asia Pacific Lupus Collaboration. “This new therapy may be effective for many patients.”

IL-2 is a cytokine, a signaling molecule produced by immune cells for immune cells. Specifically, IL-2 modulates homeostasis of CD4+ T cells by regulating the abundance of regulatory T cells, follicular helper T cells, and IL-17-producing helper T cells. Follicular helper T cells are the “specialized providers of B cell help,” meaning they regulate the germinal center that produce antibody-creating plasma cells and memory B cells. IL-17-producing helper T cells play a vital role in the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases, like lupus. Specifically, these cells facilitate the inflammatory process through stimulation of cytokines, chemokines, neutrophils, and macrophages.

Patients with lupus show reduced production of IL-2 by T cells, suggesting that an IL-2 deficiency is at the root of their immune dysfunction.

With the initial success of these IL-2 studies, clinical trials will soon be underway. Scientists are hopeful for the quick approval of this new treatment, since preclinical trials have shown the IL-2 treatment to be effective and safe for treating lupus, and higher doses of the drug have been approved in the past.

The present study was recently published in the journal Nature Medicine.
 


Sources: Monash University, European Journal of Immunology, Annual Review of Immunology
 
About the Author
  • I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
You May Also Like
JUL 23, 2018
Immunology
JUL 23, 2018
Obesity Associated Inflammation Leads to Chronic Health Issues
Inflammation caused by harmful oxidized lipids increases in individuals with obesity and may contribute to chronic disease development....
JUL 28, 2018
Immunology
JUL 28, 2018
IgM Antibody Protects against HIV-1 Infection
The antibody IgM is shown to be provide protection against HIV infection in rhesus monkeys up to 82 days past exposure to HIV....
AUG 20, 2018
Immunology
AUG 20, 2018
Photosensitivity Linked to Immune Cell Dysfunction
The Langerhans cells of the immune system activate cytokines essential for skin protection when exposed to UV that is functional in photosensitive individuals....
OCT 16, 2018
Drug Discovery
OCT 16, 2018
Immunotherapeutic Targets A Blood-Clotting Protein
Fibrin is a blood protein that normally does not cross to the brain, however, several neurological disorders have a defect in the blood-brain barrier that ...
NOV 13, 2018
Immunology
NOV 13, 2018
Bacteria Offers Solution to Inflammation
A team of researchers surveys the mutualistic relationship between gut bacteria and host in regards to gut inflammation in zebrafish...
NOV 14, 2018
Immunology
NOV 14, 2018
Stress in Youth Can Mean Depression as an Adult
A research team investigates early life stress and its relation to adult depression and anxiety...
Loading Comments...