Autoimmune Disease Research and Resources

Autoimmune Diseases 101

laboratory technician picks up a test tube with a human blood sample
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Building on decades of scientific study, research on autoimmune diseases continues to grow our knowledge of the immune system, and what happens when it does not recognize its host.

Critical to a deep understanding of the dozens of autoimmune diseases now known, is understanding of the immune system itself. Numerous research institutions are engaged in mapping and modeling the immune system to understand immunity from the cellular level up.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infection Diseases (NIAID) supports research into autoimmune diseases. Recent breakthroughs include:

  • Autologous stem cell transplants may halt progression of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, the most common type of MS. 
  • New drugs may help preserve the function of insulin-producing cells of people recently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. 
  • Antigen-specific immunotherapy is being increasingly studied and used for treating specific autoimmune conditions 
  • Low-Dose Naltrexone (LDN) is a medication that is increasingly being prescribed to help lower autoimmune antibodies and reduce inflammation 
  • New screening techniques offer accurate information about the brain without a biopsy. •
  • Research continues to identify autoimmune conditions, including recently, a rare, inherited autoimmune disorder. Another study suggests that high blood pressure (hypertension) in some people could be an autoimmune disorder.

    There currently are no cures for autoimmune diseases. With ongoing research, and increased understanding of genetics, environmental factors, and how they play out in the immune system, medical science is moving toward better methods to halt, treat— and eventually prevent—autoimmune diseases.

    Resources

    American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA)
    586-776-3900 / http://www.aarda.org

    National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases – Autoimmune Disease Committee
    http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/autoimmune/Pages/coordComm.aspx

    NIH Clinical Center
    (301) 411-1222 

    Genetic and Rare Diseases (GARD) Information Center
    301-251-4925 / https://rarediseases.info.nih.gov

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