As colorful as the symptom picture is, so interdisciplinary is the therapy - involved are, for example, internists, dermatologists, rheumatologists, neurologists (neurologists) or metabolism specialists (endocrinologists). Generally valid statements on the treatment can hardly be made, as these - depending on the disease - are very different. If individual organs such as the thyroid gland or pancreas are affected, the functional failure must be compensated, for example by supplying the missing thyroid hormones or insulin.
Common therapy methods
In order to suppress the activity of the immune system, so-called immunosuppressants such as cortisone are available; however, the damping is unspecific, which possibly also healthy defense mechanisms are suppressed. In many cases, anti-inflammatory drugs are also used. Healing therapies are so far only possible in individual cases and in the approach - as an example is called the stem cell transplantation in diabetes mellitus.
Fend off the defense?
An Australian research team and a working group in Braunschweig, however, seem to have come closer in recent years to the dream of healing: the scientists have discovered a control mechanism that can be used to re-regulate the immune system. The hope is that it can be used to develop a drug that will stop an outbreak of autoimmune disease. However, even if the idea proves to be viable, it will take several more years for such a cure to be developed and approved.
British scientists have recently deciphered the mechanism by which a pregnant woman's placenta prevents the maternal immune system from attacking the unborn child - which is actually a foreign body. Obviously, certain proteins on the surface of the placenta camouflage them, making them invisible to the defense cells. The researchers now want to use such proteins for the treatment of autoimmune diseases - first tests have already begun.
Whether preventive can do something against autoimmune diseases (eg, when other family members are ill), is controversial and can be answered for individual diseases.