"Our findings confirm that defective apoptosis of immune cells can cause autoimmune disease, and that Bax and Bak are important determinants of immune cell death. We were also interested to see that, in our model, loss of Bak on its own was sufficient to cause autoimmune disease, albeit to a lesser extent than losing both Bak and Bax. This supports a recent discovery that humans with mutations in the BAK gene are predisposed to certain autoimmune diseases."
The research provides hope for people with autoimmune diseases as Bax and Bak activity can be triggered by a new class of potential anti-cancer agents, called BH3-mimetics, which are currently in clinical trials for certain types of leukaemia in Melbourne, Dr O'Reilly said. "Our findings suggest that BH3-mimetics might be an exciting new option for treatment for autoimmune conditions, by activating Bax and Bak and making the self-reactive immune cells which are causing the autoimmune disease to die," she said.
|Contact: Vanessa Solomon|
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute