Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin have made a discovery regarding the autoimmune disease lupus, shedding light on a mechanism that can trigger the disease in children. Lupus is characterized by severe inflammation throughout the body, leading to significant impacts on affected individuals’ lives.
The research focuses on a specific immune receptor called Toll-like receptor 7 (TLR7), which normally recognizes the genetic material of pathogens and triggers an immune response. The study reveals that a disruption in a mechanism regulating the amount of TLR7 can lead to lupus. If this mechanism is impaired, TLR7 receptors accumulate in immune cells, causing the recognition of the body’s own genetic material. Consequently, the immune system turns against the body, leading to the systemic inflammation characteristic of lupus.
The findings, published in the journal Science Immunology, open up new avenues for lupus treatment. By targeting the mechanisms involved in causing these genetic mutations, it may be possible to prevent the inflammation associated with lupus, offering a more effective approach to therapy. This is particularly significant as it could lead to a shift from merely suppressing inflammation with drugs to addressing the root cause of the disease.
Moreover, collaboration with researchers at the Technical University of Dresden revealed additional mutations associated with a particularly aggressive form of lupus, manifesting in infancy.
This research not only enhances our understanding of this condition but also offers a promising new direction for therapeutic strategies.
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