Dr. Horwitz describes autoimmunity.
In order to understand autoimmunity it’s important you understand the immune system. The immune system is designed to protect you from foreign invaders and germs and it does that by recognizing self and non-self. The purpose of the immune system is to attack foreign invaders whether they be germs in the form of bacteria, viruses or other agents, even tumors, and that is how the immune system works.
In autoimmunity that differentiation between self and non-self is blurred and your immune system starts attacking your self, either organs or certain parts of the body or parts of cells. So that’s the basis of the autoimmune reaction. It can be systemic, as is the case with lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. It can be organ-specific as is the case with diabetes, but they all operate at the same principle and that is your own immune system, your body’s defenses have turned against itself and interestingly, we used to think that it’s a hyperactive immune system and now in the past year it’s become clear that what’s going on is a suppressor cell that normally suppresses these autoimmune reactions, this reactivity, has been mutated somehow.
So that should lead to interesting and very provocative and hopefully helpful therapies in the future.
About Dr. Randy Horwitz, Ph.D., M.D.:
Dr. Randy Horwitz, Ph.D., M.D., received a B.S. degree in biochemistry from the University of Illinois, and a Ph.D. in Immunology and Molecular Biology from the University of Florida. He received his medical degree from the University of Illinois, and completed his residency in Internal Medicine at University Hospitals (Case Western Reserve University) in Cleveland.