3
$\begingroup$

Suppose that a bacterium happened to have a protein on its surface. This protein can also be found in the human body. If this bacterium were to then infect a human with an otherwise normal immune system, would his/her immune system attack the person's body, in addition to the bacterium?

The reason I'm asking this is because I have read a book about how, supposedly, the Soviet Union created a bacterium that did just that: they modified Yersinia Pestis to produce myelin which, supposedly, caused multiple sclerosis. The book's author claims that this really happened, but I am skeptical of that claim.

$\endgroup$
3
$\begingroup$

It's believed that many autoimmune cases are triggered by what you describe - pathogens or opportunist bacteria and viruses that contain proteins similar to human proteins.For example:

However, it's important to understand that although these cross-reacting proteins may be required in the process of autoimmunity, they aren't sufficient to cause autoimmunity alone (or else everyone would have autoimmunity all the time). Autoimmunity needs to have a whole bunch of steps, including several pieces of genetic susceptibility and environmental conditions, before the specific trigger will cause a problem (and it's likely that once the many other conditions are satisfied, there are multiple potential triggers that can set up the final cascade).

$\endgroup$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.