Now researchers at the University of California and Yale have shown that the ‘T-regs’ can be removed from the body, increased by 1,500x in the laboratory and infused back into the bloodstream to restore normal function.
An initial trial of 14 people has shown that the therapy is safe, and can last up to a year.
“This could be a game-changer,” said Dr Jeffrey Bluestone, Professor in Metabolism and Endocrinology at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).
“By using T-regs to ‘re-educate’ the immune system, we may be able to really change the course of this disease.
While this study focussed on diabetes, there are a number of similarities between diabetes and SS. This treatment, using a patient’s T-reg cells, is a general autoimmune treatment. It also uses a patient’s existing cells, so it has the potential to be more effective and have fewer side effects than conventional treatments. While diabetes, as a common and well-known disease, often gets much more study money, there is no reason to believe that success in diabetes trials couldn’t be replicated for other autoimmune diseases:
The team say that T-Reg treatments also hold promise as treatments for other autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, and even as therapies for cardiovascular disease, neurological diseases and obesity.
Hopefully significant progress can be made on this treatment.