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Autoimmune Disease

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Autoimmune diseases refer to a class of diseases where immune responses are initiated against self tissues. Some of the most common autoimmune diseases are diabetes mellitus (type 1), rheumatoid arthritis, Grave's disease, multiple sclerosis, myasthenia gravis etc. These diseases arise because of the breakdown of the regulatory arm of the immune system that prevents reactions against self tissue, leading to an overactive immune system.

Immunosuppressive drugs are commonly prescribed to suppress the immune system from destroying self tissue (autoimmune diseases). These drugs are very effective in mitigating the harmful effects of the immune system but have many problems associated with their use. Some of these problems include:

1. Adverse side effects leading to kidney and liver toxicity
2. Increased risk of bacterial infections
3. Increased risk of developing malignant tumors
4. Need to be used throughout the lifetime of the patient.

Researchers in the Little lab are developing therapeutics that can suppress the immune system while avoiding the harmful side effects of the immunosuppressive drugs. Our work focuses on recruiting and modulating the regulatory arm of the immune system to help suppress adverse immune responses against self tissues.

For further information on autoimmune disorders please refer to these links:
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/autoimmunediseases.html
http://www.aarda.org