We invite you to listen to Radiolab’s new podcast entitled “My Thymus, Myself.”  As you may know,  APS Type 1 results from a mutation in the AIRE gene which determines self-tolerance by programming T cells to recognize self and not self.  This 2022 Radiolab podcast does a good job of explaining AIRE, the thymus, “killer” T cells, and self-tolerance and significantly features three researchers with close ties to our Foundation.

Early in this podcast, the narrator calls attention to a groundbreaking research paper that describes the  “immunological self-shadow.” This paper was written by a member of our Medical Advisory Committee (MAC), Dr. Mark Anderson, who has participated in multiple of our symposia, including this past October in Toronto.  The podcast also goes into great detail about the work of Dr. Louise Markert – our Foundation has directly funded her research on the thymus, and she has spoken at two of our symposia. Finally, the podcast ends by thanking Dr. Hannah Meyer of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories, who is working on unlocking AIRE to improve cancer treatments and who also presented this past October in Toronto.  It’s amazing that this journalist, in writing about the thymus, brought together 3 researchers closely connected to our group.  

Besides the researcher connections to our Foundation, this podcast is particularly relevant to our group for two reasons: 

1. This latest thymus/AIRE research, which incidentally we’ve directly helped fund, could lessen the use of immunosuppression therapy for the transplant population.  We’ve mentioned in the past that AIRE research could potentially benefit a large number of autoimmune conditions as well as improving cancer treatments.  This is a third patient population that will benefit from the work being done with APS Type 1 patients to understand AIRE.  –

2. Dr. Lionakis has spoken of his hope that through early diagnosis and effective immune suppressive treatment, future children born with APS Type 1 may never have to deal with the effects of this disease.  This new research, though, stands to be important to today’s APS Type 1 patient group as well.  The problem we face now is how to replace the glands that have been affected by a patient’s autoimmune reactivity without the replacement gland being subjected to the same auto-reactive chain of events. This research suggests that a doctor could transplant a new adrenal gland and thymus tissue from the same donor concurrently to create two senses of self working together – the original sense of self recognizes the individual as it always has been, while this second self would recognize the transplanted organ/tissue and prevent it from being perceived as a foreign invader.  

The future is hopeful and bright for our community.  We are grateful to Radiolab for their interest in the thymus.

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