ORGENTEC Autoimmunity Blog

Covering Autoimmune Diseases

Ankylosing Spondylitis: Biomarkers May Predict Disease Progression

Recently, a new study has identified a couple of biomarkers that may predict disease progression in patients suffering from ankylosing spondylitis (or: AS for short), an autoimmune disease also called Morbus Bechterew.

The German study describes key inter-group differences between different types of AS patients, which may predict the progression of structural damage in the spine. In the future awareness of such differences will help physicians to stratify patients due to risk. Hence, the results may pave the way for developing specific treatment options for this autoimmune disorder.

New treatment options on the horizon

In the more recent past, several biomarkers have been described to be associated with radiographic spinal progression and syndesmophyte formation in Bechterew’s disease. However, it is not clear, whether these biomarkers are also able to predict new bone formation in AS patients.

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Research Update: Osteoimmunology

Linking autoantibody production to bone loss

in rheumatoid arthritis

Inflammation of the synovium in a joint affected by rheumatoid arthritis

Autoantibodies against citrullinated proteins (ACPA) are found in people with rheumatoid arthritis and are one of the strongest risk factors for bone destruction in this disease. A recent study now directly links the formation of antibodies binding to mutated citrullinated vimentin (anti-MCV) to bone loss in rheumatoid arthritis, indicating that these autoantibodies act on osteoclasts, the bone cells responsible for bone resorption.

Harre U, Georgess D, Bang H, Bozec A, Axmann R, Ossipova E et al. Induction of osteoclastogenesis and bone loss by human autoantibodies against citrullinated vimentin. J Clin Invest 2012; 122(5):1791-802. (1) 

The research of  U. Harre, G. Schett and their coworkers provides fundamental new insights into the interaction between bone and the immune system in the inflammatory process leading to the development of rheumatoid arthritis.

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Research Update: New Classification Criteria for Sjoegren’s Syndrome

Since the early 1960s almost a dozen different criteria for Sjögren’s syndrome (SS) have been published, both for classifying and for diagnosing that autoimmune disease. Recently, an international team of rheumatologists has published new classification criteria for Sjögren’s syndrome. In the April issue of the Arthritis Care & Research journal the authors propose clear and carefully worded guidelines.

Without question, these “new 2012 classification criteria for Sjögren’s syndrome” are urgently needed to better support etiologic and genetic research and therapeutic trials for Sjögren’s syndrome. Indeed, the new criteria are the first to be based solely on objective clinical tests!

Many other criterions have permitted various testing subjectivity to enable the classification of the disorder. In consequence, subjectivity has made standardisation of clinical trial inclusion something of a moving target, limiting comparability of research data across studies and impeding the needed robust clinical evaluation of possible new treatments. But criteria used for enrollment into clinical trials need to be clear, be easy to apply. And the new 2012 criteria agree to that demand. (more…)

Heart Disease Risk in RA: Obviously, Common Assessment Tools are Insufficient

In rheumatoid arthritis, standard heart disease risk tools underrate danger!

Patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, or RA for short, are at higher risk for heart disease. Among experts that’s a matter of common knowledge (fortunately and increasingly that is basic knowledge among patients, too!).

elderly

Watch out, doctors! – In elderly rheumatoid arthritis patients commonly used heart disease risk assessment tools regularly fail, according to a current study. – © Robbie Ribeiro

 

On a less positive note, commonly used heart disease risk assessment tools seem to be inadequate for estimating the risk of cardiovascular disease danger faced by RA patients. That is what a brand-new study found.

In this blog article I summarise the main results of the research done at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota (USA). The study is entitled Usefulness of Risk Scores to Estimate the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease in Patients With Rheumatoid Arthritis, and it has been published online on 20th April 2012 in The American Journal of Cardiology.

Heart disease risk in RA: More accurate assessment tools needed

The study estimated the accuracy of the Framingham and Reynolds risk scores, two tools commonly used by physicians for assessing patients’ heart disease danger. The scientists found that these two assessment tools substantially underrated cardiovascular disease danger both in women and men suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. In particular, that happens in older patients. Interestingly enough, it also happens in people who test positive for rheumatoid factors. (more…)

Research Update: Atherosclerosis and Autoimmunity

The long Arm of the Dendritic Cells: The Link between Atherosclerosis and Autoimmune Diseases

Inflammation has been closely linked to autoimmunogenic processes in atherosclerosis. In fact, patients who are suffering from an autoimmune disease have an increased incidence of “hardening of the arteries”, concretely atherosclerosis (the spelling “arteriosclerosis” is also common). In the case of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) the patients have a 30 to 60% higher risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke!

picture shows a beating heart

It is an accepted fact: Rheumatoid arthritis patients have a higher risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke. But where is the connection between the two types of disease?

pDCs: the link between atherosclerosis and autoimmunity

Now clinical researchers at Munich Ludwig-Maximilians-University (LMU) have uncovered a mechanism which establishes a causal link between the two types of disease. The immunological process may help to explain the link between autoimmunity and atherosclerosis.

The mechanism described is provided by a specific class of immune cells called plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs). The pDCs respond to DNA released from damaged and dying cells by secreting interferon proteins. The research, which is done in collaboration with scientists from Rudolf Virchow Center at Wuerzburg University, shows that stimulation of pDCs by a specific DNA-protein complex contributes to the progression of atherosclerosis. These findings may have implications for new strategies for the treatment of a whole spectrum of conditions that are associated with chronic inflammatory reactions. (more…)

New Guidelines for the Diagnosis of Celiac Disease

Celiac disease diagnostics revised 

Anti-endomysial antibodies on monkey esophagus

Anti-endomysial antibodies on monkey esophagus

The diagnostic criteria for celiac disease (CD) have remained unchanged for more than 20 years, after the 1990 revision of the guidelines originally formulated in 1969.  During this period the disease has been intensively studied and scientific findings have unveiled the genetic background of celiac disease, linked to the human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8 haplotypes. The key autoantigen tissue transglutaminase (tTG) has been identified and reliable laboratory tests for disease specific autoantibodies now contribute to diagnostics and complement the methodological repertoire of clinical observations and histologic findings in duodenal biopsy samples. Finally, the European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition (ESPGHAN) has now published New Guidelines for the Diagnosis of Celiac Disease.

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Liver Disease Diagnostics: Antibody-based Diagnosis of Autoimmune Liver Diseases


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Liver Disease Diagnostics: Antibody-Based Diagnosis of Autoimmune Liver Disease

For the launch of our Liver-9-Line immunoblot test (to our press release “Liver Disease Diagnostics by Immunoblot” of May 16, 2011), I dug through a pile of literature on the topic of autoantibody-based diagnosis of autoimmune diseases of the liver. In the last week I picked it all up again and worked through it systematically.

The interior surface of the liver. A reproduction of a lithograph plate from Gray’s Anatomy.

The reason for my renewed interest is that we brought four more ELISA tests for liver diagnostics to the market two weeks ago. They are the Anti-LKM-1, Anti-SLA, Anti-gp210, and Anti-Sp100 tests, all designed for fully automated autoimmune diagnosis with our Alegria system. All four test systems assist the formulation of a diagnosis when autoimmune hepatitis (AIH) and primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) are suspected, or for differential diagnosis when another disorder of the liver is assumed. (more…)

Mobile Health Applications: Their Significance for Medical Education and Healthcare

Mobile Health Applications and Their Significance for Medical Education and Healthcare

As we here at ORGENTEC Diagnostika set about developing a smartphone application for our company in mid-September of this year, we had no idea what an exciting field we were entering.

We were also amazed when we began to intensively explore the iTunes App store and Android Market to see “what the others were up to”. We tried out many things, looked at a large variety of very different apps, and loaded our iPhones up with a broad range of apps.

Screenshots of the ORGENTEC Autoimmunity Guide, the app on autoimmunity, autoimmune disorders, and autoimmune diseases diagnostics. di

The ORGENTEC Autoimmunity Guide: Three screenshots of our company’s mobile medical app on autoimmunity, autoimmune disorders, and autoimmune diseases diagnostics. – © ORGENTEC Diagnostika, Mainz

We also researched a lot of technical details, reading this blog and that. We learned a great deal about the market shares of the individual mobile operating systems (“Who is winning the race for domination on the mobile operating system market in which corner of the world? Apple’s iOS or the Android OS? Blackberry’s RIM or Windows Phone 7?”). We thus also had to involve ourselves to some extent in some “religious wars” (“iPhone or Android device?” – … there’s no question, is there?). (more…)

Welcome to the ACPA Club

Anti-CCP hs (high sensitive)®: a new biomarker for the serological diagnosis of early rheumatoid arthritis

ACPA for RA diagnosticsTimely diagnosis is of critical importance to the progression of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) because the rapid implementation of intensive treatment can inhibit damage to the joints and maintain function. In conjunction with medical history, clinical examination, and imaging procedures, serological tests form the foundation for an early diagnosis.

In addition to rheumatoid factors, autoantibodies against citrullinated antigens (ACPA) have proven to be valuable tools for the serological diagnosis of early RA. They have become a critical component of the new 2010 ACR criteria for the classification of RA, and account for three of the six points required to verify a diagnosis of RA. (more…)

A short History of Indirect Immunofluorescence Technology

The GRÜNER CLUB AUTOIMMUN blog featured a fine post about the history of indirect immunofluorescence. In that article my Austrian colleague Barbara Fabian, community manager of GRÜNER CLUB AUTOIMMUN, described in great detail how indirect immunofluorescence technology, or: IFT, and also referred to as IIF assay,  has become an indispensible tool of autoimmune disease diagnostics over the last two decades, and how IFT has become a standard laboratory technique used in serological autoimmune diagnostics.

Without further ado I have translated Barbara’s post in order to make you this text, and especially the interesting images, available. – Here it is:

The Development of Indirect Immunofluorescence Technology (IFT)

by Barbara Fabian, MSc, Community Manager of GRÜNER CLUB AUTOIMMUN

Over the last 20 years, the detection of autoantibodies has developed into an indispensible component of autoimmune diagnostics. Along with serological and clinical data, autoimmune status has become an important building block in the formation of diagnoses. (more…)

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