A new study stemming from the Shanghai Institute may offer hope to lupus sufferers, with new treatments on the horizon to battle this awful disease. Research revealed a lack of specific genetic molecules might be spinning a body’s immune system out of control; a contributing factor to the development of the condition.
Those that develop lupus seem to have low levels of circular “RNAs”, which trigger an immune system reaction that is meant to battle viruses. The team discovered that increasing levels of these molecules, referred to as circRNAs, within cells from lupus sufferers restored regular activity of a protein that rouses one arm of a body’s immune system.
The team found that these circRNAs, biological molecules that are involved in the coding-gene process, regulate an enzyme known as PKR, which triggers responses to viral infections. RNAs are known to restrict activity for PKR; however, when a virus attacks cells, circRNAs are eliminated at large, so that PKR can battle the infection.
When it comes to lupus patients though, researchers have found low levels of circRNAs, which means they are too weak to work at regulating PKR; therefore, if it can’t control the enzyme, and it thus becomes too active. High levels of PKR tend to be found in those who have lupus, thus creating overworked internal organs that then damage.
Science News reported that one of the researchers within the study relayed that the team was able to manipulate levels of circRNAs within immune cells of lupus patients, and they discovered they can turn down the inflammation within these cells. By learning how to regulate circRNA levels within lupus patients, there is a chance that a more effective treatment option can pop up for those who suffer from lupus, offering them a renewed hope around their condition.