Bacteria and viruses that can cause diseaseand malaise, surround us everywhere. The human immune system is the main way to protect against potential threats. For most people, the immune system acts as an effective, though not ideal, defense mechanism. But for some, the immune system can fail, resulting in perceiving parts and cells of the body as a threat and attacking them. Such conditions are called autoimmune. To date, they are very poorly treatable and there are still no developed drugs. However, things can change in the future, as scientists have discovered the gene responsible for the development of autoimmune diseases.
How do autoimmune conditions develop?
The problem with modern drugs isthe high likelihood of their inefficiency and pronounced side effects. To develop a medicine, you need to better understand how autoimmune conditions develop. The most common diseases today are multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, lupus, eczema, etc.
Over the past decade, many studiesrevealed a common feature of all autoimmune conditions: a special gene called TYK2. This gene has been shown to be associated with at least 20 autoimmune diseases. Since its discovery, a drug has been developed that has demonstrated the promise of treating psoriasis, a disease that causes red scaly spots to appear on the skin. The results and successful clinical trials give hope not only for the treatment of psoriasis, but also for other autoimmune conditions.
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Will there be a cure for autoimmune diseases in the future?
TYK2 plays an important role in regulatingimmune system activity. But the key to the effect of TYK2 on autoimmunity is what scientists call "gene variants." Each person has one of several possible variants of the TYK2 gene. These options, in fact, are slightly different versions of the gene that can make the immune system more or less active depending on how the person is endowed.
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In a study published in a journalScience Translational Medicine, it was found that some variants of the gene that increase the activity of the immune system increase the likelihood that a person will develop an autoimmune disease. While other variants of the same gene can actually protect against more than 20 different autoimmune conditions.
Because a higher level of TYK2 activityleading to the development of autoimmune diseases, a team of researchers tested the use of a drug called BMS-986165, which inhibits the function of TYK2 in the treatment of autoimmune conditions. The drug works by decreasing gene activity in the immune system. Encouraging results were obtained when testing the drug in both preclinical and clinical conditions. A team of specialists first studied the effect of the drug on human blood cells. Then the scientists went on to test on mice to test the effect that it has on the whole body. It turned out that the drug protects mice from several different autoimmune conditions, including lupus. In some cases, treatment reduced the number of attacking immune cells by 50%.
This and other previous studies incombined with evidence of the role of the TYK2 gene variant in another 20 autoimmune diseases, suggest the possibility of using this drug in the future. BMS-986165 is currently undergoing clinical trials. Well, we will hope that the tests will be successful and soon a cure for a large number of autoimmune conditions can be purchased at the nearest pharmacy.