Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Suppressing immune system reverses otherwise untreatable case of blood disease

21.01.2003


Treatment with two medications that suppress the immune system, rituximab and cyclophosphamide, appears to have cured one woman of an otherwise untreatable case of the blood disease known as thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP). The findings support the theory that TTP is an autoimmune disease, and not only provide insight into diagnosis and treatment, but also reveal clues about blood clotting and autoimmune diseases in general.



"In this particular patient who did not respond to standard therapy, immunosuppression seems to have been successful," says Morey A. Blinder, M.D., associate professor of medicine and of pathology and immunology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. "These results are promising for others suffering from similarly resistant cases of TTP."

Blinder led the study, in conjunction with J. Evan Sadler, M.D, Ph.D., professor of medicine and of biochemistry and molecular biophysics. Their findings appear in the Jan. 21 issue of the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.


TTP is a blood disorder that affects an estimated 3,000 Americans each year, most of whom are women of childbearing age. Prior to the early 1980s, the prognosis was grim: The risk of dying from complications of the disease such as heart attack or stroke was as high as 90 percent. And because the disease is so rare, it continues to be misdiagnosed and untreated.

Today, most patients who are diagnosed accurately with TTP are successfully treated with plasmapheresis, in which an individual’s blood is swapped for healthy blood in a daily process similar to dialysis for kidney failure. But plasmapheresis does not target the underlying problem, which is believed to be similar to autoimmune diseases such as lupus, in which the immune system attacks a person’s own tissues. Therefore, even with daily plasmapheresis, the disease returns in about 25 percent of patients.

In 2000, Sadler’s team, in collaboration with investigators at the University of Washington in Seattle, identified a protein in the bloodstream called von Willebrand factor-cleaving protease and found that it either is missing or abnormal in people with TTP, presumably as a result of disruption by the immune system. Without it, the protein called von Willebrand factor is not regulated and therefore sticks to itself, forming large clumps, or blood clots, that often lead to stroke or heart attack.

"The discovery of this protein really helps us understand the mechanism of blood clotting in general and how important von Willebrand factor is," says Blinder. "Also, we hope to use this knowledge to develop a definitive test for TTP so that it can be more easily diagnosed and more effectively treated. It also may be possible to genetically engineer the protein for infusion, similar to the use of insulin for diabetes."

To prevent the immune system from destroying or disrupting this essential cleaving protease, the Washington University team tested two drugs already shown to suppress the immune system. In October 2001, after 19 months of relapsing disease despite extensive plasmapheresis, the team gave one 42-year-old woman with severe TTP two drugs – rituximab and cyclophosphamide, both known anti-cancer drugs. Her symptoms and blood levels improved and continue to be stable to date.

"This may not be a public health issue like AIDS or breast cancer, but the fact that first this disease was almost always life-threatening and now may be curable is really important," says Blinder. "And now that we’re really beginning to understand the disease itself, it will help us diagnose and treat TTP and will provide insight into blood clotting and how immune diseases work in general."


###
Zheng X, Pallera AM, Goodnough LT, Sadler JE, Blinder MA. Remission of chronic thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura after treatment with cyclophosphamide and rituximab. Annals of Internal Medicine, vol. 138, Jan. 21, 2003.

Funding from the National Institutes of Health and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute supported this research.

The full-time and volunteer faculty of Washington University School of Medicine are the physicians and surgeons of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. The School of Medicine is one of the leading medical research, teaching and patient-care institutions in the nation. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.

Gila Z. Reckess | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://medinfo.wustl.edu/

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht New malaria analysis method reveals disease severity in minutes
14.08.2017 | University of British Columbia

nachricht New type of blood cells work as indicators of autoimmunity
14.08.2017 | Instituto de Medicina Molecular

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A Map of the Cell’s Power Station

18.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form

18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet

18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>