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Potential Long-Term Lupus Treatment Found

Scientists in Australia have found a way to fix a problem that causes lupus, a serious autoimmune disease. They hope their discovery, a world-first, will provide effective treatment for the long term.

The research, led by Monash University and published in Nature Communications, uncovered a method to reprogram the defective cells of lupus patients using protective molecules from healthy individuals.

By utilizing human cells, this novel treatment restores the immune system’s protective side, preventing the body from attacking its own cells, a hallmark of autoimmune diseases like lupus. This breakthrough holds promise not only for lupus but also for other autoimmune conditions such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis.

The team discovered that certain proteins present in healthy individuals help prevent autoimmune diseases by regulating the immune system. These proteins, called regulatory T cells or T-regs, are deficient in people with lupus and other autoimmune disorders.

Associate Professor Joshua Ooi, co-senior author of the study, explains that they successfully reprogrammed ineffective T-regs from lupus patients using specific protective molecules from healthy individuals. This method effectively restored the ability of these cells to regulate the immune system, akin to a software upgrade for the immune system.

Professor Eric Morand, also a co-senior author, describes the treatment’s effectiveness as profound and potentially game-changing. The researchers are now planning clinical trials to evaluate whether this method can offer a long-term cure for lupus patients.

The prevalence of lupus, especially among females and indigenous populations, underscores the urgent need for effective treatments. Lupus often leads to debilitating symptoms, including kidney disease and neurological complications like epilepsy.

The study’s success relied on collaboration between researchers and lupus patients, highlighting Monash University’s unique approach of combining cutting-edge research with clinical expertise.

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