Recent posts have been few and far between - sorry about that. I hope to up the frequency a little now that small details like getting a new job have been resolved.
CLIPPERS has been proposed as an "autoimmune disease", a view supported by the fact that effective treatment is focussed on immune-suppressing agents such as Prednisolone, Methotrexate and Azathioprine. With this in mind, there have been a couple of recent news-items on the nature and treatment of other auto-immune disorders which are interesting.
One concerns a possible future treatment for early Multiple Sclerosis which involves destroying and then regenerating the patient's immune system. In a recent trial, this treatment reduced auto-immune attacks on myelin - the cause of MS - by up to 75%. This therapy is at a very early stage of research but the fact there has been proof of concept in human trials is very exciting. Having said that, the technique as it stands involved aggressive chemotherapy which is not trivial to administer or tolerate. Whether this research results in some general principles which can translate to other auto-immune disorders is unclear at the moment, but worth keeping an eye on for the future.
The other story has been floating around in various forms for several years, but was recently revisited in a British newspaper ("Why a diet of worms could be good for you", The Guardian, February 2016). The essence of this story is that in the past our bodies were used to the presence of parasitic worms and developed a complex relationship with them. Quoting the doctor from the article, "I can give a mouse multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis or colitis, and when I give it worms, the disease goes away. Can we do that in humans too? I don’t see why not.” Researchers think that parasitic worms adjust the immune system of the host to dampen it down which could have beneficial results when auto-immune disease is present. However the mechanisms are not understood and there have been virtually no studies in humans. Given the choice in a few years time of immune-system destroying chemo or having a few worms to stay, I know which I would choose. However, please note that I am not a doctor and definitely not advocating treating CLIPPERS using worms.
Living With CLIPPERS by Bill Crum is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.