Veterans Affairs

Diagnostic of immune system disorders along with immunotherapeutic

miRNA therapy address up or down-regulation of immune response

Medical & Biotechnology

Discovered in nematodes in 1993, microRNAs (miRNAs) are non-coding RNAs that sculpt gene expression profiles during development and may regulate as many as one-third of human genes. miRNAs are found in plants and animals, and in the viruses that infect them. Each miRNA may have hundreds of targets.

T Cell

It is known that immunosuppressed elderly individuals have lower T-cell proliferation/activation and that miRNAs play a role in T cell activities. The T cell is a lymphocyte of a type produced by the thymus gland and actively participating in the immune response. Various miRNAs are up or down regulated during the aging process. VA researchers believe that these miRNAs present targets for modulating immune responses. Using data from space flight experiments the researchers identified 19 miRNAs that can be used to modulate the immune system.

These miRNA’s may be used to treat or inhibit autoimmune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, chemokine/cytokine flares, and Crohn’s disease. The treatment begins with measuring the expression of at least one of the 19 identified T cell activation related miRNAs present in a sample against a control. Based on the finding of a down-regulated miRNA, the therapy involves administering that miRNA to the subject. In the event of an upregulated finding, an inhibitor of that miRNA is provided.

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