Autoimmune Technologies - Applied Biomedical Science

Areas of Research


Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, or JRA, is a diffuse connective tissue disease that occurs in children through age 15. Its effects on joints may disturb growth, and JRA can include symptoms involving tendons, organs such as the kidneys and eyes, and other manifestations as well.

JRA is a common connective tissue disease in children and may affect as many as 500,000 or more patients in the United States. It is often difficult to differentiate JRA from other rheumatic conditions in children, and a diagnosis of JRA is often made only after ruling out other possible disorders.

Research studies suggest that JRA is associated with a retroviral particle called Human Intracisternal A-Type Particle, or HIAP. Antibodies to this virus have been found in a very high percentage of patients with JRA. These antibodies have also been found in a very high percentage of patients with three other autoimmune disorders: systemic lupus erythematosus, Sjögren's syndrome, and Graves' disease.

Researchers believe that these four disorders may result from infection by HIAP and that individual genetic factors such as HLA haplotype may help to determine the specific symptoms which are experienced by the infected person. Support for the possibility that HIAP infection is in fact the cause of these four disorders is provided by a study by Steinfeld et al (Rheumatology 1999;38:814-817), who showed a dramatic improvement in Sjögren's syndrome patients who were treated with the anti-retroviral drug AZT.

Several patents cover HIAP in the U.S. and other countries. Autoimmune Technologies has licensed the HIAP technology from Tulane University in order to develop diagnostic tests and therapies for JRA and the other disorders. For information about diagnostic testing, go to the Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis Laboratory Test Page.

This material is not intended to take the place of a physician's advice.


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