Just a Few Drops of Blood Leads to Breakthrough in Better Treatment for Auto-immune Disease
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Just a Few Drops of Blood Leads to Breakthrough in Better Treatment for Auto-immune Disease

News Staff — McGill University Health Center
Jul 10, 2017

"Currently, we have to shut down the whole immune system with aggressive suppressive therapies in various autoimmune and inflammatory diseases …With this discovery, we are taking a big step in the right direction." – Dr. Ciriaco Piccirillo

(Canada) — Scientists from the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Center (RI-MUHC) may have cracked the code to understanding the function of special cells called regulatory T Cells. Treg cells, as they are often known, control and regulate our immune system to prevent excessive reactions. The findings, published in Science Immunology, could have a major impact in our understanding and treatment of all autoimmune diseases and most chronic inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, Crohn's disease as well as broader conditions such as asthma, allergies and cancer. (Photo Credit: McGill University Health Centre — MUHC)

Researchers made this discovery by investigating a rare human mutation in a gene called FOXP3. Although the importance of the FOXP3 gene in the proper function of Treg cells has been well documented, its mechanisms were still not fully understood by scientists.

Thanks to an international collaboration and cutting-edge technology from the Immunophenotyping Platform at the RI-MUHC, the team was able to make their discovery using only a few drops of blood from a five-week-old newborn boy who died in 2009 from a rare and often fatal inherited genetic immune disorder called IPEX.

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