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Category: Autoimmune Diseases
A lab test that screens patients for autoimmune diseases can potentially identify a number of different illnesses, including lupus. Recently, a team of researchers from the Mayo Clinic discovered that constant exposure to a protein found in Staph bacteria may induce lupus among individuals who are genetically inclined to have the disease.
Although lupus may be influenced by a person's genes, medical experts have not found a precise cause for the illness. Previous studies linked Staph, a type of bacteria that lives on the skin and inside the noses of humans, to other autoimmune diseases, such as psoriasis and Kawasaki disease.
One group of scientists from the Mayo Clinic decided to investigate any possible links between lupus and staphylococcal enterotoxin B (SEB), a protein produced by Staph.
Experiments in laboratory mice showed that chronic exposure to SEB stimulated white blood cells to react against the body's own tissues, causing a condition similar to lupus.
"We think this protein could be an important clue to what may cause or exacerbate lupus in certain genetically predisposed patients," said researcher Vaidehi Chowdhary, M.D. "Our hope is to confirm these findings in lupus patients and hopefully prevent flares."
Lupus is common among African, Hispanic and Asian Americans. Individuals who suspect they have this disease may undergo a lab test to look for markers of the illness.
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