Immune cell linked to autoimmune diseases

The death of immune system cells is an important safeguard against the development of autoimmune diseases, according to new research.

Scientists discovered that in the development of the immune system, cells are produced which have the potential to attack the body’s own tissues, causing diseases such as type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

These “self-reactive” immune cells are normally deleted during development, but when immune cells lack two related proteins, called Bax and Bak, enough self-reactive cells survive to cause autoimmune disease.

Bax and Bak activity can be triggered by a new class of medications called BH3-mimetics, and scientists are hopeful that BH3-mimetics could be a treatment option for autoimmune conditions.

Read more at Walter and Eliza Hall Institute