• By Dana Sparks

Science Saturday: Autoimmune disorders unmasked

June 16, 2018

Editor’s note: Recently Mayo Clinic launched a first-in-the-U.S. clinical test to help patients get the right diagnosis faster when it comes to diseases like multiple sclerosis (MS). This is the story of how tests like that are developed at Mayo.

Diseases of the human body evolve and change, but their effect on patients is fixed.

In a French hospital in 1894, diagnosis of a patient with eye pain, fading vision and tingling limbs may have been neuro-myélite optique aiguë, named as such by Eugène Devic, M.D., a French neurologist.  After 1907, the patient might have had Devic’s disease. By the 1930s, the patient may have been diagnosed with a version of MS.

Same pain, different names.

But, now, thanks to a stalwart bit of technology and Mayo Clinic’s Neuroimmunology Laboratory, that link between Devic’s and MS has been severed. Also, treatment for some autoimmune disorders can now be honed so patients get the right diagnosis the first time and the right treatment faster.

Misguided Attention
In response to infection or cancer, immune system cells create a molecule called an antibody. Antibodies latch onto specific cell proteins and signal to the immune system that action is needed. When an antibody targets healthy tissue, it’s called an autoantibody, literally a self-antibody. And one or more healthy tissues can be in the crosshairs.

Mayo Clinic’s Neuroimmunology Laboratory within the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology discovers antibodies and validates antibody tests to clarify differences among autoimmune diseases. Read the rest of the article on Discovery's Edge.
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