Previous studies had shown that patients with a diverse range of autoimmune diseases often had minor changes in the BACH2 gene. Today’s cutting edge technology allowed scientists to glimpse some of the interactions this gene had with the entire genome to control immune function, says lead author Dr. R. Roychoudhuri. BACH2 plays a key role in the immune system. Although, the intracacy of the immune system remains elusive, it is understood that a healthy immune system knows how to recognize a foreign body and can attack it, to keep a person healthy while in an unhealthy immune system, the body’s own cells or friendly agents are mistaken as “foreign” and attacked resulting in allergy or autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and asthma.
This non-profit kids health site lists in the chapter “Health Problems” the many allergy and autoimmune diseases a child may suffer from today. Perhaps, this discovery published in the respected journal Nature might some day help a child and the parent lead a healthier life (Click here to read Nature, June 2, 2013 article).
NIAMS researcher Kiyoshi Hirahara, M.D and colleagues discovered that the Bach2 gene played a key role in regulating the switch between inflammatory and regulatory cells in mice. The loss of the Bach2 gene in specific immune cells caused them to become inflammatory, even under what would be a protective situation. Says a team leader, Dr. Nicholas P. Restifo, “The gene shares its name with the famous composer Bach, since it orchestrates many components of the immune response, which, like the diverse instruments of an orchestra, must act in unison to achieve symphonic harmony”
Potential for Gene Therapy?
The studies were done in mice and will have to be replicated in human clinical trials, which as you know could take time. When the mice lacked the BACH2 gene the mice died within a few months of life. If the BACH2 gene was introduced into the mice lacking this gene, it restored their immune health. Thus, gene therapy with BACH2, a gene common in patients with allergy and autoimmune disease, restored the immune health of lab mice.
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