An autoimmune disease is a condition that causes the body to attack itself, in particular its own healthy cells. This obviously has damaging effects and is one of the main problems associated with conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Coeliac disease for example. It seems that recent research has discovered a potential way for scientists to encourage the body to refrain from destroying itself, and instead convert them from being aggressive to actually start protecting against the disease. It is the Agressor cells that are targeted with this treatment, these cells are responsible for the damaging effects associated with autoimmune disease. So if scientists can convert these to Protector cells instead, there is every possibility that the gene expression will change and the Agressor cells will become Protector cells.
This type of conversion has seen some success in allergies, whereby the conversion can lead to ‘allergic desensitisation’, and so it is thought that this may be able to be transferred to autoimmune diseases too! The biotechnology company Apitope are still clinically developing this treatment method, it is still in its infancy but the potential benefits could be very promising for millions.
Science Daily, (2014). Scientists discover how to switch off autoimmune diseases. Retrieved 4th September, 2014, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140903092157.htm