Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Circular RNA & Lupus

A biochemist and her team of scientists at the Shanghai Institute of Biochemistry and Cell Biology believe that people who have lupus have low levels of circular RNA. For those that don't know, lupus is an autoimmune disorder that will turn on the bodies virus-fighting mechanisms, even if no viruses are present, causing the body to attack itself. These scientists found that if the circular RNA levels are raised in a lupus patient, normal activity of a protein that triggers this autoimmune response will instead return to normal function. These circular RNAs stop the activity of protein PKR, which is part of innate immunity. If circular RNA levels are too low, the PKR protein is free to keep triggering an immune response without a virus present, thus attacking the body at its own will. 
3D circular RNA
This is a pretty amazing discovery for people who have lupus. If this truly is the cause of the auto-immune disease, it could open up a large new avenue of research to combat it. If a new drug can be developed to increase a persons level of circular RNA, then hopefully, this will shut down the PKR protein from an unregulated immune response.

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