Autoimmune diseases

In autoimmune diseases, such as Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Type 1 Diabetes (TID), the immune system cannot distinguish healthy tissues from harmful invaders, such as bacteria and virus. This can result in the destruction of tissue and changes in organ function. Currently, autoimmune diseases are among the top 10 leading causes of death worldwide. MS, for example, is estimated to affect 2.5 million people around the world today and 40,000 people are diagnosed with T1D each year in the U.S. alone.

MS, for example, is estimated to affect 2.5 million people around the world today and 40,000 people are diagnosed with T1D each year  in the U.S alone.

The immune cells in patients with MS recognise and destroy the myelin sheath that insulates neurons in the CNS (central nervous system). If destroyed, electrical activity from one cell to another would be disrupted and communication between the brain and other parts of the body would be lost.

There is no cure for MS and treatment typically focuses on recovery from attacks, slowing the progression of the disease and managing MS symptoms. Today’s treatment of MS includes corticosteroids, Beta interferons, Copaxone and newer drugs such as Tecfidera and Gilenya. The problem is that these come with their own sets of associated side effects.

In people with T1D, the immune system attacks its own insulin-producing cells so that insufficient amounts of insulin are produced – or no insulin at all.  T1D affects predominantly young people and usually makes its debut before the age of 30, and most frequently between the ages of 10 and 14.  Since the insulin-producing cells are destroyed in T1D, insulin has to be artificially delivered by injection, or sometimes by pump or oral medication every day for the rest of their life.