By MELISSA WILDY.
A group of Adelaide researchers have developed a world-first technique which could lead to the cure and earlier diagnosis of autoimmune diseases.
In a recent study of more than 1,000 patients with an autoimmune disease, researchers at Flinders University found all of those studied displayed similar cell patterns.
Flinders University doctor, Dr Georgia Arentz, said it was a technique which had not yet been tested.
“We’ve been able to discover molecular signatures or profiles of the patients’ disease and the profiles are strikingly similar,” she said.
Flinders University researcher, Rhianna Lindop, said autoimmune diseases caused the body to mistakenly remove healthy tissue.
“We all have proteins in our body but in people with autoimmune diseases, the body recognises these ‘self’ proteins to be foreign and responds to them by producing antibodies that attack and destroy healthy tissues and organs,” Ms Lindop said.
“Usually when you’re sick, the body produces antibodies to fight off the infection, but it has the opposite effect in people with autoimmune diseases.”
One in 100 people suffer from a form of autoimmune disease, but such diseases have been difficult to identify using current diagnosis techniques.
Ms Lindop said the discovery would lead to more accurate testing and a potential cure.
“Current immunosuppressive treatments are aimed at reducing the effects of the disease, but they don’t actually alter the antibody,” she said.
“This research could allow us to develop a drug that specifically targets the antibody.”