Providing a better understanding of your disease
The immune system never sleeps. It is permanently monitoring us from head to toe to keep us healthy, constantly fighting against disease-causing viruses and bacteria, abnormal human cells such as cancer cells and the damaging effects caused when normal biological processes start to malfunction.
As such, the immune system plays a fundamental role in the development and also resolution of most diseases. The antibodies it produces are vital to our defense mechanisms, best reflected by the immense success of vaccination against a large number of human pathogens. In the case of autoimmune disease, antibodies are generated against the body’s own proteins (autoantibodies), damaging our cells, tissues and organs in a chronic fashion. Autoimmune diseases can last for decades, and as of today no cure has been found for any autoimmune disease.
Diagnosing your disease
Fortunately, the autoantibodies produced by the immune system are circulating in blood. This enables their specific detection in a tiny blood sample using special diagnostic tests. Having access to this information allows your doctor to provide a more accurate diagnosis of your condition, as well as insight into the specific stage your disease has reached or is about to reach.
Advanced diagnostics that use several autoantibodies as a panel of biomarkers can also help to guide your treatment and aid disease management by providing guidance as to which therapy will work best for you. This is what the media currently calls ‘personalized medicine.’
If such tests are available for the condition you have, they can be used throughout your treatment to monitor your response and ensure you are getting better. If you are not improving quickly enough, the tests may help your doctor decide to switch you to an alternative medicine that is more likely to work.