Scientists Find Link Between Allergic and Autoimmune Diseases
Implications from allergies to MS and cancer
Bethesda, MD - Scientists at the National Institutes of Health, and their colleagues, have discovered that a gene called BACH2 may play a central role in the development of diverse allergic and autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, asthma, Crohn's disease, celiac disease, and type-1 diabetes. In autoimmune diseases, the immune system attacks normal cells and tissues in the body that are generally recognized as “self” and do not normally trigger immune responses. Autoimmunity can occur in infectious diseases and cancer.
The results of previous research had shown that people with minor variations in the BACH2 gene often develop allergic or autoimmune diseases, and that a common factor in these diseases is a compromised immune system. In this study in mice, the Bach2 gene was found to be a critical regulator of the immune system’s reactivity. The study, headed by researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), both part of NIH, and their colleagues appeared online in Nature, June 2, 2013.
The finding that a single component of the immune system plays such a broad role in regulating immune function may explain why people with allergic and autoimmune diseases commonly have alterations in the BACH2 gene, said NCI researcher Rahul Roychoudhuri, M.D. "This may be the first step in developing novel therapies for these disorders."
Studies known as genome-wide association studies, which analyze genetic variants among people to determine whether specific variants are associated with particular traits, were critical to the discovery. These studies showed that DNA from patients with diverse autoimmune disorders often had minor alterations in the BACH2 gene, which laid the foundation for this research. Continue>
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