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The end of inflammation? New approach could treat dozens of diseases.

0 2 years ago

Growing up in Atlanta, Georgia, Lauren Finney Harden had always had allergies. But after she moved to New York City for her first job in 2007, inflammation “just exploded” throughout her body.

“I had insane full-body rashes and strange gastro issues. I’d get massive burps that made me feel like I needed to throw up, but nothing would come up but air,” she says. Eventually, she was diagnosed with lupus, a disease in which the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues and organs. She was put on a drug called prednisone, a corticosteroid that tamps down inflammation.

But the cure, at times, felt worse than the disease. “I looked four months pregnant all the time,” Finney Harden says, “and I’d get cold sores every other week; my body could not fight off anything.”

Finney Harden’s experience is unfortunately a common one with traditional autoimmune treatments like prednisone. A broad immunosuppressant, prednisone works by disabling the production of pro-inflammatory molecules that are crucial for the body to mount an immune defense. So while prednisone—and drugs like it—are adept at quickly snuffing out inflammation, they leave the body vulnerable to any bug it encounters, and they can come with toxic side effects.


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