"These findings are probably the first genetic pieces of a huge 'interferon puzzle,' with whose help it will be possible to discover the mechanisms behind the disease SLE, and maybe other autoimmune diseases at the molecular level," says Professor Lars Rnnblom.
"It is remarkable that by studying only eleven of the some 200 genes that are seen as belonging to the interferon system, we were able to identify two genes with such clear connection to SLE," says Professor Ann-Christine Syvnen.
A few years ago Lars Rnnblom and Professor Gunnar Alm at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences were virtually the only researchers who claimed that the interferon system, which is involved in the body's defense against viruses, etc., was also behind the autoimmune disease SLE. Since then they have shown the importance of the interferon system in a number of works. This has led to the recognition of their hypothesis in the last year, and today it represents a white-hot field of research that has attracted a great deal of interest in the pharmaceutical industry. This picture has now been further reinforced by new findings - the result of multidisciplinary and international collaboration involving world experts on the interferon system, immunology, and the disease SLE, combined with world leaders in the technology for large-scale genetic analyses and statistics. The genetic and statistical analyses were performed by the doctoral student Snaevar Sigurdsson and Professor Ann-Christine Syvnen at the Center for Clinical Medical Research at Uppsala University.