Researchers at Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Australia have identified two proteins that play an important role in making immune cells to attack the organs that they were supposed to protect.
According to the study, published in the journal Immunity, the researchers found that two proteins, known as Puma and Bin which are responsible for killing self reactive immune cells that attack the organs, are absent in autoimmune diseases such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.
Both of the proteins are also known as BH3-only proteins and kill the self reactive cells through apoptosis or self death.
Lead researcher Dr Daniel Gray said that the death of these self reactive cells was necessary in order to prevent autoimmune diseases. "If any self-reactive cells manage to reach maturity, the body normally has a second safeguard of switching these potentially dangerous cells into an inactive state, preventing them from causing autoimmune disease. We were able to use this discovery to show that the death of self-reactive immune cells is indeed an important protection against autoimmune disease development", he said.