|Autoimmune Disease Prognosis|
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The immune system is comprised of a complex network of tissues, cells, and proteins which is responsible for defending the body from harmful external organisms such as bacteria and viruses through a coordinated process termed inflammation. a coordinated process termed inflammation. Autoimmune diseases arise from an overactive immune response of the body against its own constituents and tissues. This leads to destruction of cells and tissues which commonly turns into a chronic condition. The underlying mechanism responsible for triggering an autoimmune disease is not clearly understood. It is speculated that the interaction of the body with various microorganisms, drugs and the environment may lead to changes to the self, which in genetically-prone individuals may trigger an autoimmune response. More than eighty different types of autoimmune diseases have been characterized. Prominent examples include diabetes mellitus type 1 (IDDM), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), Coeliac disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), etc. Treatment of autoimmune diseases typically involves immunosuppressive medication which tunes down the immune systems' response.
For many autoimmune diseases, such as Crohn's disease, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), and Multiple Sclerosis, to name a few, there is a current lack of both diagnostic and prognostic tools allowing the physician definitive, timely diagnosis and determination of the best treatment regimen for the patient. The recent introduction of effective, novel anti-inflammatory biological therapies (e.g. monoclonal antibody therapy) has further highlighted the need for a personalized approach to disease management, since the high cost and severe side-effects of these drugs prohibit their use for the entire diagnosed population. Furthermore, early treatment with some of these biological drugs in specific patient populations may result in lower overall long-term patient treatment costs, which is another strong driver for the development of effective patient stratification technologies. Tests that would assist the physician in making such decisions are currently unavailable.