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Autoimmune diseases stopped in mice

Experimental treatment halted diabetes, MS without ruining rodents’ ability to fight infection

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4:30pm, June 19, 2014

A new strategy to rebalance out-of-control immune systems could one day stop autoimmune diseases. The method, tested in mice, preserves the body’s ability to fight off bacteria and viruses.

Autoimmune diseases result when the immune system mistakes some of the body’s proteins for invaders and attacks organs. Doctors usually treat such disorders — including type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis —with immune-suppressing drugs. The drugs calm the attacks but damage the ability to fight infections and cancer.

But research now shows that the immune system can relearn that the body’s proteins are friends, not foes. Scientists broke down and rebuilt the immune systems of mice with diseases that mimic type 1 diabetes and MS. The treatment stopped the progress of diabetes in four out of five mice and put animals with a disease similar to MS into remission,

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