New research provides clues to mechanisms of autoimmunity
Dr Konstantin Blyuss, Lecturer in Mathematics, has just published a paper in the Journal of Theoretical Biology with a new model for the onset and dynamics of autoimmune diseases. Such diseases include diabetes, MS and many others, and these are often known to be caused by infections with certain viruses. Konstantin and colleagues have developed and analysed a mathematical model of how such infections trigger autoimmune response. They have also studied possible scenarios of treatment.
Many diseases afflicting humans are by their nature autoimmune: immune system fails to discriminate cells infected with foreign pathogens from host own cells and as a result attacks cells in specific organs. Notable examples of such diseases include type-1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis (MS) and uveitis. Many of the autoimmune diseases are known to be triggered by viral infections. In a recent paper (published online 15 June 2012, to come out in print on 21st September 2012), Dr Konstantin Blyuss (Mathematics) in collaboration with Dr Lindsay Nicholson from Bristol has proposed a new mathematical model describing how immune response against a viral infection leads to the onset of autoimmunity. This model is able to qualitatatively reproduce all main types of immune dynamics, including normal clearance of infection, chronic infection, periodic dynamics of remissions/relapses, as well as multiple infections. The paper also studies the impact of possible treatment on autoimmune dynamics. It is anticipated that this work will be a major step toward understanding and control of autoimmune diseases.
Full reference: K.B. Blyuss, L.B. Nicholson, The role of tunable activation thresholds in the dynamics of autoimmunity, Journal of Theoretical Biology, vol. 308, pp. 45-55 (2012).
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