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Rebooting the Immune System

A sign rests on the windowsill in the office of Jeffrey Bluestone, director of the Immune Tolerance Network and the Diabetes Center at the University of California at San Francisco. Measuring nearly three feet across, it reads “Club Bluestone” in pink and blue neon. It’s the sort of artifact you’d expect to find in a bar. But Bluestone is a world-renowned immunobiologist; his father-in-law had the sign made for him in the late 1980s when Bluestone was working long hours in his lab at the University of Chicago. As the night wore on and their energy faded, he and his colleagues would turn out the lights, turn on the sign and, propelled by the power of Bruce Springsteen, push forward with their research. “It was our version of partying,” he says.

As you may already know, auto-immune diseases like Type 1 diabetes or multiple sclerosis occur when your immune system malfunctions and mistakes part of your own body for a foreign invader. In the case of Type 1, it’s when your body decides to kill off the cells that produce insulin, a hormone necessary to absorb the energy in your food. I think I speak for all Type 1 diabetics when I say that destroying these cells is not the body’s smartest move.

I was lucky enough to participate in a trial for a promising new drug — created by the aforementioned Jeffrey Bluestone — that attempted to stop my system from killing off the rest of my insulin-producing cells. What’s more, I recently got a chance to write about this drug — and others like it — for Popular Science. The article’s called “Rebooting the Body.” Here’s a link to a digital copy.

I also got a chance to speak about the piece on the New Hampshire Public Radio Show, Word of Mouth. You can listen to the interview here.

4 Comments

  1. tyler cheung Says:

    monoclonals are all the rage for the past decade or so. remicade, tysabri, rituxan, all the good stuff…

  2. Catherine Price » Blog Archive » Diabetes on New Hampshire Public Radio Says:

    [...] just had the chance to speak about my article in Popular Science, Rebooting the Body, on the New Hampshire Public Radio show Word of Mouth. (For those who missed it, it’s about [...]

  3. Teknikscian Says:

    Nice article. I actually work for a company that has collaborated with Bluestone for many years; we work on the stem cell side of treatment.

  4. Andrew Says:

    Thanks for the article in Pop Science! I write about rheumatoid arthritis and found myself investigating immune system “reboots” as treatment options. I hope that the research keeps up this line of research.

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