Rogue Immune Cells Linked to Leukemia Are a Key Driver of Autoimmune Diseases

Gene variants associated with leukemia can produce “rogue” immune cells that drive autoimmune diseases, according to a new study from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Australia. Scientists had previously noticed that leukemia patients were also likely to develop an autoimmune disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis or aplastic anaemia. Research into this link revealed that immune cells called killer T cells--responsible for destroying harmful cells and pathogens--were a key player. This new research provides insight into the role these killer T cells play in leukemia and autoimmune disease. Gene variations affecting a protein that controls the growth of killer T cells can turn them rogue, the researchers found.

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