For generations, doctors have been trying to understand autoimmune diseases and how to treat them.
More than 80 such diseases affect Canadians, such as rheumatoid arthritis and type one diabetes, but new research from the University of Calgary could provide a solution.
Doctor Pere Santamaria with the Cumming School of Medicine says, right now, these diseases are so hard to treat because they involve some of the patient’s white blood cells attacking the body.
“It’s impossible to distinguish these bad white blood cells from the good white blood cells that populate the immune system.”
So, his team has developed a new class of drugs that use a naturally occurring process to treat them.
They have already had great success with type one diabetes, and a couple of other diseases.
“With animals that have a form of disease that’s similar to multiple sclerosis in humans, the animals are paralyzed in cages, they can’t walk, they can’t run. We treat them with these drugs and they’re running around,” continues Dr. Santamaria.
This brand new discovery uses a naturally occurring process to turn bad white blood cells good again, to stop the affects of these diseases.
At this point, only dangerous, toxic drugs can be given to patients, further compromising their immune system.
These drugs act completely different than what is available now.
“They do not eliminate anything, they enhance something that is wired into our immune system to protect us from these diseases. So it’s a completely different way to look at autoimmune diseases and how to treat them,”
The drugs can also be tailored for use on about 80 different autoimmune diseases, by making only a small change.
“It’s basically a one-for-all type of approach,” he concludes.
Dr. Santamaria hopes to start clinical trials in the next three years.