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.
How Bones and the Immune System Do Communicate
The term osteoimmunology was first used about 10 years ago by Joseph R. Arron and Yongwon Choi in their article Osteoimmunology: Bone Versus Immune System in Nature. Since then, a number of articles have appeared in the scientific literature with this term in their title. A Wikipedia article on the subject has also been available since July 2007, though it is only in English and is not (yet) very comprehensive.
There have also been occasional conferences that explicitly included osteoimmunology, for example the 3rd International Conference on Osteoimmunology: Interactions of Immune and Skeletal Systems coming up end of this month in Greece (20-25 June, 2010). In addition, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) has initiated a new area of concentration called Immunobone, in order to promote this area of research and to facilitate networking between the various research groups and numerous different studies. (more…)