By knocking out a single gene in mice, immunologists at Duke University Medical Center have mimicked a little-understood autoimmune disorder in humans. In the puzzling disorder, called Sjögrens syndrome, the persons tear and salivary glands are affected, causing dry eyes and mouth, as they are damaged by an attack of the persons own immune cells.
According to researchers, the achievement not only offers insight into Sjögrens syndrome, but into the general developmental machinery of the immune system. The immunologists, Yuan Zhuang, HongMei Li and MeiFang Dai, published their findings in the October 2004 issue of the journal Immunity. The work was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
In a preview of the article, immunologist Marjan Versnel wrote that the new mouse model "offers a wonderful opportunity to study in detail the relationship between the immune system and autoimmunity occurring in the context of only a single genetic lesion." Versnel is at Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands.
Dennis Meredith | EurekAlert!
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